Nov 22, 2012

Getting Facts Right Post-CeaseFire

Since the cease-fire between Israel and factions in Gaza was announced yesterday coverage has shifted to what the cease-fire means and if it will hold. Israeli spokespeople have over-saturated American media outlets with factually inaccurate talking points that continue to go unchallenged by anchors and journalists.

Perhaps the lie being told most often is that Israeli fire into Gaza only came as a response to rocket fire and thus, as the Israeli spokespeople would like you to believe, the terms they agreed to in the cease-fire agreement is no different than their previous behavior and therefore not a concession of any sort. Of course the problem is that just doesn't square with the facts. 

In previous posts we've graphed out both projectile fire from Gaza and Palestinian casualties in Gaza caused by Israeli fire over time. Two things are clear, projectile launches increase as a result of Palestinian casualties and, plenty of Palestinian casualties occur when there is no projectile fire

This graph showing the dynamics of fire through the first 9 months of 2012 makes that clear. 

[Click to enlarge]

The red line is Palestinian casualties from Israeli fire in Gaza while the blue line shows projectile launches. The data points 1, 4, 5 and 6 make clear that even when there is no projectile fire into Israel, Israel continues to inflict casualties on Palestinians in Gaza. The rest of the points also show that projectile fire spikes after Israeli inflicted casualties on Palestinians. For more on the specific events represented in these data points you can check out the original post we put together.

Further, the Israeli narrative about why it fires into Gaza is undermined by the fact the Palestinian fisherman, yes, fisherman, continue to come under fire. Numerous fisherman have been killed, many more injured. The toll of the Israeli naval blockade, enforced by live fire, on Gaza's fishing industry has been staggering. The coastal territory with a millenia-old fishing history is now forced to get its fish from farms or imports (when Israel lets them in).

So while Israeli spokespeople are trying to spin the cease-fire terms to make it appear as if their fire into Gaza is all about defense, the facts show otherwise. It would behoove journalists interviewing said spokespeople to call them on this.

But journalists themselves don't seem to know the basic facts. For example, on CNN yesterday several hosts and anchors have been putting forward the notion that the cease-fire might fail because weapons traffic into Gaza may not cease. They stated that weapons traffic into Gaza was part of the cease-fire terms.You can see Erin Burnett stating (at about 1:30 in). I noted this on Anderson Cooper's show last night too.

Here is the cease-fire terms as reported, you be the judge, do you see anything about weapons traffic? I don't. Even CNN's wire service explained the terms as :

The agreement calls for Israel to halt all acts of aggression on Gaza, including incursions and the targeting of people, according to Egypt's state news agency EGYNews. It also calls for the Palestinian factions to cease all hostilities from Gaza against Israel, including the firing of rockets and attacks on the border. Border crossings were to be opened Thursday night, and the movement of people and goods across them was to be eased, it said.

So why are CNN on camera reporters misrepresenting the facts in a way that creates more non-existent conditions for the Palestinian end of the ceasefire? For the sake of credibility, CNN should correct this misrepresentation on air immediately.

The biggest falsehood of the night however was put forward by CNN's "most seasoned" international reporter, Christiane Amanpour when she stated in an interview with Hamas' Khaled Meshal, that "Under the international agreements every Palestinian who's living in the diaspora is not going to be able to come back to Israel."

What on earth is she talking about? She certainly isn't talking about international agreements like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which Israel is also a party to, and in which the right of return is enshrined. She can't be talking about UN Resolution 194 and countless UN resolutions which have recalled it. In reality, there are no "international agreements" which negate the right of return and one of the most significant reasons why no conclusive peace agreements exist today is because Israel refuses a just solution to the refugee issue. Don't wait on Christiane to tell you that though.

I don't mean to pick on CNN, I happened to have it on in the background last night for a few hours and noticed all of these falsehoods. I'm sure this is representative of failures across US mainstream media. In between all these falsehoods though I kept hearing the slogan on CNN: "we're keeping them honest".

But how can they keep anyone honest if they can't get the facts right to begin with?  

24 comments: on "Getting Facts Right Post-CeaseFire"

Instrument of Peace said...

It appears obvious here that there is a concerted effort to misinform the public, or else it is simply sloppy and lazy journalism. In Amanpour's case I suspect it is the latter.

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