Memes of Lethal Journalism: "What does it matter who Killed the Boy?" (Arad Nir version)

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One of the patterns of lethal journalism as practiced by Western journalists is first to inject the public sphere with a lethal narrative as news, engendering hatred and violence against the target of that narrative, and then, when it turns out to be false, say, “What does it matter?”  This has come up recently since the Kuperwasser Report, which, since it’s a meme, is not surprising. Here is an earlier example, with my comments. It’s a good insight into the working of the “progressive” Israeli mind.

What Does It Matter Who Killed the Child? 

Here’s a translation (thanks to LB) of an op-ed piece by Arad Nir (head of the foreign affairs desk at Channel 2) in Yediot Aharonot (Israel’s largest circulation newspaper). It illustrates how strong the “it doesn’t matter who shot him, the death of a child is tragic” trope is in Israeli opinion-forming circles. For those who might not be familiar with Israeli progressive “moral” thinking, this is as good as any introduction.

All the Children are like Yours

Arad Nir
October 3, 2007

What difference does it make which side is guilty in the death of Muhammad al Durah? There is no justice in the death of a child?

Had he not wandered with his father into a miserable gunfight between Israeli forces and Palestinians in which his life was cut short, Muhammad al-Dura would have marked his 19th birthday this year. Had Muhammad and his father stayed at home that day, or chosen to go elsewhere, al-Dura would today be roaming the streets of Gaza and helping in his family’s livelihood. Maybe he would be a student, an activist in Fatah, or even a Hamas member in a Qassam-launching squad. But, in his death that was documented by the camera of the television network France2, little Muhammad changed into the flag-bearer of the intifada. With his choosing it, he became a symbol for his countrymen who will forever remain 12 years old.

Not only is Arad sure that the boy got killed on film, but he has accepted the narrative surrounding the footage he has yet to examine carefully. The evidence of the rushes — which Arad has apparenty not viewed (does he want to?) — formally contradicts the story that the father and son “wandered into a miserable gunfight between Israeli forces and Palestinians…” The AP and Reuter’s footage suggest he was behind the barrel with his father before the “gunfight” started.

Since the photographs were broadcast almost seven years ago, a series of experts and organizations took it upon themselves to prove that the death of al-Dura was not caused as a result of Israeli fire. Courts in France and Israel have been involved with this episode for years (and in the meantime support the network’s position) and now we receive news that even the Director of the Government Press Office, Daniel Seaman, gave an opinion and determined that “the employees of the France2 television network did not uphold (in their report) basic journalistic principles.” He accuses the cameraman Talal Abu-Rahma of “intentional staging and the creation of a libel against the State of Israel.”

I am certain that the head of the Government Press Office of the State of Israel is not accusing the cameraman and the television network of staging the death of al-Dura. Otherwise, surely he would not have deliberated whether to revoke the credentials of the journalists from the network, rather would have immediately lodged a complaint with the police. Instead, the head of the GPO accuses the journalists of a systematic (or intentional) report that implicates the israeli forces.

Sarcasm aside, this is one of Enderlin’s favorite lines. If the Israelis even suspected that he or Talal had done something wrong, they’d have taken away their press credentials. It’s a facetious argument, but a brilliant bluff. Both of them are protected by public opinion, and short of a court decision, the Israeli government would not move. The whole ploy plays brilliantly on the difference between a profoundly timid, intimidated Israeli government (they act like dhimmis to the MSM) and the perception of the Israelis as “no-nonsense” tough guys.

In response, the bereaved father, Jamal, declared that he was not able to shield his son, that he is ready for them to open the grave in order to check from which rifles the bullets were fired that brought about his son’s death and made his life eternally miserable.

What? This is nonsense. Doesn’t Arad know that digging up the body won’t show which rifles shot the bullets that killed his son? Are there supposed to be bullets in the grave? Did the Palestinian doctors leave them inside the body? Is that why no one has ever seen the bullets that allegedly struck the boy and the father a dozen times? Does it matter that the “bullet” claim is all bluff and that Esther Schapira caught Talal in the bluff? Or does Arad Nir know all this and doesn’t care?

Philippe Karsenty does a great imitation of trying to show MSNM folks the evidence. “There are no bullets.” “Et alors? [so what?].” There’s no blood. Et alors? In the final scene he lifts up his head and looks around. Et alors? They shout the boy is dead the boy is dead before he’s even “hit.” Et alors? And so on…

And I ask — why does it matter?

Muhammad a-Dura was caught with his father in an impossible position without anyone having intended it. Muhammad and his father left home together. Muhammad did not return. He was killed in a gun battle without him holding a rifle. Without him choosing this bullet or another. Abu Rahma’s camera was there and thus turned this casualty into a symbol.

Does it even matter to Arad that this may be all wrong? Does he care whether there were people who intended for him to be in the “impossible position”? Does it matter that he may not have died, and if he did, it wasn’t in a gun battle? Does he care that the the only identifiable bullets hitting the wall or leaving marks on it came from a Palestinian position? Does it matter that in order for those bullets not to be he product of Palestinian sharpshooter’s aiming at the wall over the al Durahs’ heads, these same riflemen would have had to have missed their mark by 80 degrees? Does he care whether abu Rahmah’s camera — and his alone out of the dozens that were there that day — was not there by accident. Does it matter that the symbol Talal’s tape and narrative turned this “event” into was a devastating blood libel that has poisoned the globe and the century?

Or is the narrative just too appealing to let go of, even for one of its intended victims?

Muhammad, like the many other victims- both Israeli and Palestinian- before and after him, will no longer be able to choose what to do in his life. His parents will not be able to see him mature and fulfill their dreams or compromise on his own. Muhammad is a victim of this protracted war regardless of who fired the particular bullet that caused his death.

I’m sorry. These sentiments baffle me. What on earth does this mean? Is this moral equivalence? Somehow that there’s no difference between the arsonist and the firefighter? Does it matter that the Palestinians started the gunfight (even Charles Enderlin admits that)?

Does Arad think he’s being morally grand here? “The death of a child is, in and of itself so terrible that blame is irrelevant.”

But the Palestinians do nothing but blame. They feed their hatreds, poison their children, dream of genocide, and justify their addiction to violence with their blaming. They stage blood libels in order to blame Israel and turn her into an international pariah. And the Israelis say, “it doesn’t matter”?!?

Muhammad will always remain a symbol because, as opposed to thousands of other victims, he was killed in front of the television cameras.

Now doesn’t that tell you something? Don’t you realize that Muhammad al Durah is not the symbol you think he is — the tragedy of children killed in war — but a symbol of Israel’s Nazi-like beastiality? Or, as Osama bin Laden put it:

It is as if Israel – and those backing it in America – have killed all the children in the world.

Does any of this matter? Do you care about the terrible consequences of being merciful to the cruel? That many more children will die because the men with the murderous agenda meet moral idiots who think they show their big hearts in letting them run roughshod over us, manipulating our sensibilities and churning out their child-sacrifices? I don’t believe for a minute that Arad Nir is as promiscuously exculpatory when it’s a matter of Israeli behavior: Imagine him responding to the question: “Who killed the people at Beit Hanoun?” with “What does it matter?”

From the two sides the muzzles of the rifles ejected bursts of cursed bullets. It does not matter if the fatal bullet was fired from the rifle of an Israeli soldier or from the weapon of a Palestinian fighter — there is no justification for the death of a child!

Bad poetry is no excuse for moral idiocy. Talk to the Palestinians, and they’ll not only justify the death of a child – no problem – but they’ll justify killing children, and even justify killing their own children. What kind of solipsistic moral world do you live in that you think these glorious sentiments mean anything to the foe you face?

Would that the energies invested in the argument over the angles of the fire and the source of the bullets be directed to other places that will enable a better future for this life.

All the Marshall Plans in the world won’t solve this until we get clear on where the source of the never-ending belligerency comes from. Only when we learn to identify the myriad ways in which Arab “strong” men eagerly sacrifice their own people in pursuit of their chimerical vendetta against modernity, can we begin to enable a better future for this life. I’d say measuring those angles and following the trail of deception are excellent ways to begin to understand and respond effectively to the toxins that right now blind our vision and roil the hearts of violent men the world over.

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