Thursday, September 05, 2002
THE MASSACRE MYTH LIVES!
Tal G. asks this morning "What planet did Per Stig Moeller arrive from? The Danish Foreign Minister is here in Israel to promote the EU's Middle East plan - which calls for immediate declaration of a Palestinian state (without borders), and a full-fledged state by 2005. No strings attached", and directs his readers to an article in the English Ha'Aretz. The article in Ha'Aretz seems to be greatly dependent upon news agency reports, which appear almost word-for-word (in Arabic, of course) in the Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam.
Comparison of the two versions reveals that where Al-Ayyam draws upon the agency reports, it tends to render them quite accurately. I have found only one contradition between the two versions, in that Ha'Aretz ascribes a certain statement to Arafat, while the Palestinian version ascribes it to Erekat. (This change probably results from a mis-reading, which could have happened in Hebrew or Arabic; it is certainly insignificant.)
However, the Al-Ayyam report gives us much more detail about what Arafat actually said to Moeller. He repeated all of his claims about the Israeli massacres (including a reference to "Jeningrad"). Most astonishing is the following statement that Al-Ayyam reports:
He [Arafat] told his excellency [Moeller] that over the past two years, there have been 68 thousand martyrs and injured, a third of them under the age of 17 years, in addition to a large number of handicapped.
These numbers are deliberately misleading. Even if we take the total sum as accurate, it does not distinguish between the number of killed and the number of injured, nor does it distinguish between those "killed in action" (i.e. while carrying out military operations) and those killed in civilian contexts. (For some statistics, see ICT's site. An analysis of the statistics may be found here.)
[Incidentally, the Arabic term "shaheed" (literally: martyr; plural "shuhadaa") is regularly used to describe suicide bombers and other such obnoxious characters. Even supposedly "open" Arabic news services like Al-Jazeera distinguish between Arabic "qutila" 'was killed' and "shuhida" 'was martyred' depending upon who was killed.]
Moeller seems to have bought entirely into the Arafat myth. He constantly praises Arafat's efforts while not sparing his criticism for Israel.
READING THE ARABIC PRESS
I have received a lot of requests for more summaries from the Arabic press. I am happy to oblige, with one proviso. Much of the Palestinian propaganda material is repetitive, and, as I have mentioned, the material based upon agency reports is often identical to the material published in the Western newspapers. I will therefore only report on materials appearing in the Arabic press when they differ from what can be found in the Western press, or when they provide a unique perspective on the Middle-East conflict.
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