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News Agency Lies About UN Data, Promoting New Blood Libel

The United Nations logo is seen at the 2019 United Nations Climate Action Summit at UN headquarters in New York, U.S., September 23, 2019. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

United Press International (UPI) boasts “a history of reliable reporting dating back to 1907,” and praises itself as “a credible source for the most important stories of the day.”

But UPI’s recent coverage demonizing Israeli settlers with falsely reported United Nations figures indicates that the operative word in this self-congratulatory celebration of reliability and credibility is “history.”

Instead of supplying reliable and credible reporting about the most important stories of the day, UPI debased its once venerable operation with a fabrication propping up a modern day blood libel.

Thus, in his March 24 article, UPI’s Adam Schrader falsely stated that according to United Nations data, Israeli settlers are responsible for most of the 199 Palestinians killed in the West Bank from Jan. 1, 2023, until Hamas started a brutal war against Israel on Oct. 7, 2023 (“German Foreign Ministry Condemns Illegal Israeli settlements“).

Schrader fabricated: “Before the war broke out in October, 199 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank throughout 2023 – largely at the hands of illegal Israeli settlers, data from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs shows.” [Emphasis added.]

In fact, the UN’s own data says no such thing. Schrader’s assertion about OCHA’s casualty data, available here, is absolutely false. After selecting the dates of Jan. 1, 2023 through Oct. 6, 2023 (before the start of the war on Oct. 7), along with the West Bank region, and filtering perpetrator as “Israeli civilian settler,” OCHA’s data reveals that seven fatalities out of a total of 199 — or 3.5 percent of West Bank Palestinian fatalities — were killed by Israeli civilian settlers. Does UPI consider 3.5 percent “largely”?

 

According to OCHA’s own data, Israeli settlers killed seven Palestinians, including those who were perpetrators carrying out attacks against Israelis when they were killed.

Moreover, virtually all of the West Bank Palestinians killed by Israeli civilians were killed as they attempted to carry out attacks against Israeli civilians.

Thus, such deaths underscore Palestinian — and not Israeli settler —  violence. Significantly, OCHA’s definitions underneath the data chart acknowledge:

Incidents involving Israeli settlers: includes attacks and alleged attacks by Israeli settlers, as well as incidents involving access prevention, and clashes following the entry of Israeli settlers into Palestinian communities. It also includes Palestinians killed or injured during attacks or alleged attacks they perpetrated against Israeli settlers. [Bold added.]

Lacking transparency, OCHA does not publicly share the details of each incident, making it impossible to verify the circumstances of each of the reported deaths. Nevertheless, B’Tselem, an Israeli NGO adamantly opposed to settlements, does provide identifying details.

Of the eight West Bank Palestinians B’Tselem names as killed by Israeli civilians in 2023 prior to the war, six were carrying out attacks — some of them fatal — against Israelis when they were killed.

Elisha Anteman, 17, murdered by a Palestinian terrorist in Eli in June 2023. An Israeli civilian on the scene subsequently killed the Palestinian assailant, who had managed to murder four (Photo courtesy of family).

According to B’Tselem, Muhmannad Falah ‘Abdallah Shihadah, was “[f]atally shot by an Israeli civilian after he and another Hamas military wing operative shot and wounded the settlement security guard, and then fired at Israeli civilians, killing four, including two minors, and wounding three others.”

Reuters details Shihadah’s murderous June 20 attack outside a hummus restaurant (“Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank“).

Then there was ‘Alaa Khalil ‘Al Qeisiyah, “Fatally shot by an Israeli settler after entering the settlement’s limits and, according to the military, approaching settlers holding a knife” (“Palestinian Armed With Knife Shot Dead at Israeli Settlement in West Bank, IDF Says.“).

B’Tselem also lists that ‘Abd al-Karim Badi’a ‘Abd al-Karim Sheikh was “[f]atally shot by an Israeli settler after, according to the military, he entered the settlement armed with knives and explosive devices.” The Times of Israel reported that Sheikh hurled two IEDs, one of which exploded, before he was shot dead (“Palestinian shot dead after allegedly entering West Bank farm with knives, IEDs“).

Similarly, B’Tselem find that Karam ‘Al Ahmad Salman was “Fatally shot by settlement security guards when, according to the guards, he tried to enter the settlement.” The Times of Israel reported he was armed with a gun (“Armed Palestinian shot dead by guard near West Bank settlement, IDF says“).

B’Tselem also notes that Tareq ‘Odeh Yusef M’aali tried to stab an Israeli, and Sanad Muhammad ‘Othman Samamrah managed to do so, moderately wounding his victim.

In a separate error, Schrader mistakenly cited “borders for Israel and Palestine established in 1967.” Presumably, he was referring to the armistice lines (not borders), which were in place from 1949 to 1967, separating Israel from the Jordanian-controlled West Bank and the Egyptian-controlled Gaza Strip.

There have never been what Schrader calls “borders for Israel and Palestine.” Israel gained control of the West Bank from Jordan and the Gaza Strip from Egypt in 1967 as a result of the Six-Day War, which was imposed upon it. Those territories remained under Israeli control from 1967 until the Jewish state withdrew from areas of the West Bank as part of the Oslo Accords in the 1990s, giving Palestinians authority over parts of the West Bank for the very first time in history.

Later, in 2005, Israel withdrew entirely and unilaterally from the Gaza Strip, and Palestinians gained control of the coastal territory for the very first time then as well.

UPI’s woeful blood libel, completely detached both from reality and its own source, appeared in multiple McClatchy newspapers including Miami Herald, The Telegraph (Macon), The Bellingham Herald, Tacoma News Tribune, The Sun News, The Bradenton Herald, The Modesto Bee, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Idaho Statesmen, San Luis Opisbo Tribune, The Island Packet, The Herald-Sun (Durham) and The Wichita Eagle.

CAMERA contacted senior leadership at both UPI and McClatchy about Schrader’s fabrication of UN data and the false charges of killings carried out by settlers, which was not responded to for several days.

“UPI has … stood at the cutting edge of newsgathering practices,” recounts its website.

The news agency’s 2007 centennial anniversary post adds: “Today, side by side with many of the oldest and emerging media giants, UPI faces a new technological frontier with a passion to preserve the best of journalistic practices while engaging a citizenry of lay reporters, photographers, and videographers, and a plethora of sources to publish and receive information.”

More than a dozen years later, UPI has failed to preserve ethical journalistic practices, introducing a novel newsgathering method: lying about its sources to support a predetermined narrative vilifying Jews and Israel.

Update: On March 31, following the publication of the original CAMERA post, UPI revised its wording to reflect the fact that the United Nations has found that seven Palestinians were killed in incidents involving settlers, and not nearly 200 as Adam Schrader had previously reported.

But the amended wording is itself a gross fabrication, falsely claiming that the UN found that at least seven were “murdered” by Israeli settlers, as if assailants killed while carrying out attacks are “murdered.” The new fallacious language is: “Before the war broke out in October, 199 Palestinians were killed by Israelis in the West Bank throughout 2023 — including at least seven murdered by illegal Israeli settlers, data from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs shows.

The United Nations made no assertion about murders, and qualified, without providing any breakdown, that the incidents include “Palestinians killed or injured during attacks or alleged attacks they perpetrated against Israeli settlers.” Instead of coming clean, the UPI buried itself into a deeper pit of embarrassing unprofessionalism and partisanship. E.W. Scripps, the editor who founded the United Press Association in 1907, and who practiced journalism according to the motto “Give light and the people will find their own way,” would surely not recognize UPI were he to see the depths to which it has sunk today.

Tamar Sternthal is the director of CAMERA’s Israel Office. A version of this article previously appeared on the CAMERA website.

The post News Agency Lies About UN Data, Promoting New Blood Libel first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Israel’s ambassador to Canada says his country faces critical decisions after a night of Iranian missile attacks—and urges Canada to list the IRGC as a terrorist group

Israel is at a crucial juncture after Iran fired more than 350 ballistic and cruise missiles at the Jewish state overnight on April 13, according to Israel’s ambassador to Canada. “We are facing one of the most critical moments in the history of the State of Israel when a country like Iran starts an attack […]

The post Israel’s ambassador to Canada says his country faces critical decisions after a night of Iranian missile attacks—and urges Canada to list the IRGC as a terrorist group appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Nicaragua’s Charade at the ICJ

General view of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, Netherlands December 11, 2019. Photo: REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

JNS.orgThe solemnly named International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague has become an arena for the world’s despots and authoritarians to strut and grandstand, projecting their own abuses—torture, censorship, genocide—onto the world’s democracies.

The anti-democratic crusade waged in the name of human rights has impacted Israel more than any other state. The Jewish state is subjected to insulting and, frankly, frivolous lawsuits every time it tries to discharge its basic duty of protecting its citizens—whether that was the security fence constructed along the West Bank border more than a decade ago or the war against Hamas in Gaza right now.

Since the onset of the latest war in the Gaza Strip, triggered by the monstrous Hamas pogrom of Oct. 7, Israel has been the focus of a baseless charge of genocide brought about by South Africa, which largely failed in its bid to make the accusation stick. Many observers pointed out that South Africa’s worsening domestic record—marked by corruption, horrific xenophobia towards migrants from other countries in southern Africa and an inability to deliver basic services like electricity and clean water to those who need them most—hardly qualifies its African National Congress (ANC)-led government to sit in judgment over Israel. Yet Pretoria has continued undeterred, at the same time that it welcomes Hamas leaders for state visits and treats its Jewish community—and anyone else who dares utter understanding for Israel—with unvarnished antisemitism.

Now the baton has passed to Nicaragua, which last week sent its lawyers to the ICJ to charge Germany with aiding and abetting Israel’s supposed “genocide.” The bitter irony is that it is Nicaragua’s far-left leadership, aligned with the dictatorships in Venezuela and Cuba, that should be in the dock.

Daniel Ortega has been in power in Nicaragua since 2007, and he’s not going anywhere—at least, not voluntarily. Some readers will remember Ortega’s name from the Sandinista revolution that overthrew the Somoza dictatorship in 1979 and the Iran-Contra scandal that followed during the subsequent decade. But you don’t have to dig deep into that history to get a sense of the kind of regime that he runs. As Freedom House—an NGO that monitors the state of liberty around the world—explains it, the latest period of Ortega’s rule has been “a period of democratic deterioration marked by the consolidation of all branches of government under his party’s control, the limitation of fundamental freedoms and unchecked corruption in government.”

In the last year alone, the Nicaraguan regime has expelled more than 200 opposition leaders into exile in the United States. It has passed new legislation to strip those deemed “traitors to the homeland” of their citizenship. It has turned the police into an arm of the executive, trampling over the separation of powers that democracies hold so dear. In many ways, this new wave of repression is an outgrowth of the regime’s brutal clampdown on anti-government protests in 2018. Abroad, meanwhile, its authoritarian domestic policy is matched by unflinching support for Russia in its invasion of Ukraine and a close bond with the Iranian regime, North Korea and other rogue states.

This, in short, is the character of the regime that has brought charges of “genocide” against Israel by targeting Germany’s supply of arms to the Jewish state—as if a serial sex offender was to opportunistically cry out, “rape!”

Why is Nicaragua embarking on this path at the ICJ? Some insight was provided by a German journalist who specializes in Latin American affairs, Toni Keppeler, during an interview last week with Swiss radio. Noting that Nicaragua is quite isolated among the world’s states, Keppeler suggested that the ICJ lawsuit was seen by Ortega as a means of boosting his international image. And Germany, he added, was a much safer bet than the United States, which supplies far more weapons to Israel, because America can punish Nicaragua in ways that Germany couldn’t or wouldn’t. He also noted that Ortega wants to be embraced by left-wing groups around the world. And so the Nicaraguan caudillo figures, not unreasonably, that bandwagoning on the Palestinian cause they are obsessed with is the way he will achieve that.

But there is another, more sinister reason behind Nicaragua’s action. Ultimately, these cases against Israel at the ICJ are aimed at shifting public perceptions of Israel and its history, and in particular, the influence of the Holocaust upon support for Israel in the democratic world. One of the reasons why Germany supports Israel is simply because it was the country that initiated the mass slaughter of Jews during World War II. Since 1945, democratic Germany has been guided by entirely different principles, elevating its backing for Israel into a staatsrason—“reason of state.” Indeed, as I noted recently, one of the several questions about Jews and Israel on the newly reformulated naturalization test for prospective immigrants to Germany asks, “What is the basis of Germany’s special responsibility to Israel?” with the correct answer being “The crimes of national socialism.”

That is how it should be, but for the international left, such a stance is intolerable. In their jaundiced eyes, Germany has atoned for the Holocaust by backing the nakba—the Arabic word for “catastrophe” used by many Palestinians to describe the creation of modern-day Israel in 1948. Germany’s position irritatingly reminds the world that Jews were once victims of nightmarish genocide themselves—hardly the sort of fact you’d want to highlight if your purpose is to turn them into victims once again. And so, Nicaragua’s lawyers (including, disgracefully, a German citizen named Daniel Muller) have trooped into the ICJ to argue that supporting the Jewish state is the wrong way to express solidarity with Jews.

The goal here, make no mistake, is to separate the Holocaust from Israel and to argue that the one entity in the world capable of preventing another Holocaust is actually sowing its seeds! It’s topsy-turvy logic, but if it works effectively as propaganda, generating meme after meme on social media, why worry about that?

Hence we arrive at a situation where the 15 ICJ judges debate a phantom genocide while turning a blind eye to genuine examples of this phenomenon, along with other related crimes. “The government of Nicaragua is perpetrating widespread violations and abuses that may amount to crimes against humanity,” the Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect Project noted in a briefing back in February, but you won’t hear a peep about that in the ICJ’s corridors. Ditto for Turkey’s racist treatment of its Kurdish minority, and indeed, for the myriad other examples of government-sponsored cruelty on every continent.

This is yet another demonstration of antisemitism, insofar as antisemitism applies to standards for Jews that no other nation has to contend with. That is the ugly reality behind these fanciful appeals to “international law” that plague Israel. Germany is now receiving a glimpse of what that feels like but only because of its relationship with Israel—otherwise, this case would never have been brought to court.

The post Nicaragua’s Charade at the ICJ first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Misplaced Moral Outrage on Civilian Casualties

Former US President Barack Obama. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

JNS.org“Israel has taken more steps to avoid harming civilians than any other military in history. … Steps that Israel has taken to prevent casualties [are] historic in comparison to all these other wars.” — John Spencer, chairman of urban warfare studies, West Point, Feb. 17, 2024

“[Immediately after taking office] Obama authorized two Central Intelligence Agency drone strikes in northwest Pakistan, which, combined, killed an estimated one militant and 10 civilians, including between four and five children.” — Obama’s Embrace of Drone Strikes Will Be a Lasting Legacy,” New York Times, Jan. 12, 2016

In recent years, we have investigated civilian harm from U.S. air strikes … in Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia, and found that thousands of civilians have been killed or seriously injured … with little accountability.” — Amnesty International at a U.S. Senate Judiciary Council hearing, Feb. 9, 2022

The recent accidental deaths of seven foreign aid workers with World Central Kitchen in the Gaza Strip have sparked an eruption of anti-Israel vitriol that highlights the vicious Judeophobic prejudice that is sweeping much of the globe today. This is something that defies all and any tenets of morality and reason. Indeed, by any conceivable criterion of human decency, there is no conflict in recent history in which the gulf between good and evil, wanton barbarism and humanitarian restraint, has been so clearly delineated as that between the protagonists in the ongoing war in Gaza.

Painstaking Israeli restraint

The tragedy of collateral damage has been a lamentable aspect of warfare ever since nation-states began to displace dynastic monarchies as the dominant structural element in the international system and perhaps even before that.

Rarely if ever has one of the belligerent parties—let alone the victim of a brutal unprovoked attack on its civilians—demonstrated such painstaking care to avoid harm befalling enemy civilians as Israel. This is reflected in the unequivocal declaration of the former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, Col. Richard Kemp: “I have fought in combat zones around the world including Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Macedonia and Iraq. I was also present throughout the conflict in Gaza in 2014. Based on my experience and on my observations, the Israel Defense Forces … does more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.”

In Gaza, the vulnerability of non-combatants is greatly exacerbated by the malicious actions of their leaders, who cynically exploit them by deliberately placing them in harm’s way and coercively preventing them from seeking safe havens. Thus, as a Wall Street Journal piece underscores, “Israel seeks to minimize civilian casualties, while Hamas seeks to maximize civilian casualties and use them as a propaganda tool.”

Israel setting ‘gold standard’ for avoiding civilian casualties

The chairman of urban warfare studies at West Point, John Spencer, described Israel’s achievements in avoiding collateral damage as “unprecedented,” particularly given the complex combat conditions in Gaza above and below ground. According to Spencer, Israel is setting the “gold standard” for avoiding civilian casualties.

Likewise, Kemp praised the IDF for its record of avoiding civilian casualties during its operations in Gaza and pointed out that the average combatant-to-civilian death ratio in Gaza is about 1:1.5, while according to the United Nations, the average combatant-to-civilian death ratio in urban warfare in general is 1:9—six times higher.

The issue of civilian casualties in Gaza is hugely complicated by Hamas’s heinous practice of exploiting medical facilities as a cover for its terror activities. This includes the copiously documented abuse of ambulances for the transportation of terror-related personnel and materiel.

Israeli moderation is underscored by comparison to non-combatant fatalities in other military encounters involving democracies at war. In World War II, nearly 600,000 European civilians were killed by Allied aerial bombardment of German cities that were reduced to rubble and ashes. Moreover, cities in other countries in Nazi-occupied Europe were bombarded—including their non-combatant civilian residents. One of the most grisly and tragic of these events occurred in Copenhagen in March 1945, when the RAF was sent to bomb the Gestapo headquarters in the city. It inadvertently hit a nearby school, killing 123 Danish civilians, including 87 schoolchildren.

Then there were the civilian populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki—neither of which was ever designated as a military target—of whom between 100,000 to 200,000 were incinerated and irradiated by the U.S. atomic bombings in early August 1945.

“There is always a cost to defeat an evil.”

Half a century later, after hundreds of thousands were killed by American bombing in the Vietnam War, NATO launched a war against Serbia. The NATO campaign consisted of high altitude—and hence far from accurate—bombing raids that regularly hit civilian targets. These targets included residential neighborhoods, old-age homes, hospitals, open-air markets, columns of fleeing refugees, civilian buses, trains on bridges and even a foreign embassy.

When then-NATO spokesman Jamie Shea was pressed on the issue of the significant numbers of civilian casualties, he responded, “There is always a cost to defeat an evil. It never comes free, unfortunately. But the cost of failure to defeat a great evil is far higher.” This is exactly how Israelis feel about the war against Hamas.

These were not the only post-World War II instances of pervasive human suffering caused by large-scale U.S.-led military operations.

More babies died in Iraq than in Hiroshima

After Saddam Hussein’s 1991 takeover of Kuwait, the United States and its allies imposed sanctions on Iraq and dispatched forces to repel the invasion. Even after Hussein was evicted from Kuwait, sanctions and military operations continued. These measures resulted in tremendous suffering for the civilian population. The scale of it can be gauged by a 1996 60 Minutes interview with the late Madeleine Albright, the former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. and secretary of state under Bill Clinton. Albright was quizzed by the interviewer Leslie Stahl about the ravages the U.S.-led measures wrought on the Iraqi population.

Stahl asked,We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?” Albright responded, “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price—we think the price is worth it.”

Of course, it should be underscored that—unlike Israel’s post-Oct. 7 response to a massacre of its citizens on its sovereign territory—at this (pre-9/11) time, neither the U.S. homeland nor any U.S. resident had been harmed by the Iraqi regime.

‘A tremendous human toll … ’

In 2001, in response to the 9/11 attacks in which almost 3,000 people died, a U.S.-led military coalition (in which the U.K. played a prominent role) invaded Afghanistan to topple the Taliban government and uproot Al-Qaeda. The Oct. 7 massacre was—in proportion to Israel’s population—almost 35 times the toll of the 9/11 atrocity; the equivalent of almost 50,000 U.S. fatalities.

Although reliable figures regarding the toll the war inflicted on the civilian population of Afghanistan and neighboring countries are not easy to obtain, an estimate published by Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs states, “The U.S. post-9/11 wars … have taken a tremendous human toll on those countries.” It presents a 2021 assessment that almost 47,000 Afghani civilians were killed, but adds a proviso that “several times … more have been killed as a reverberating effect of the wars,” including through “water loss, sewage and other infrastructural issues, and war-related disease.”

Thousands of civilians hit ‘with little accountability’

U.S. strikes in which indisputably civilian targets were hit are a matter of record. During the 20-year war in Afghanistan, several weddings, parties and processions were struck by drones—inflicting hundreds of fatalities, including women and children. Such strikes took place not only in Afghanistan but in other countries, including neighboring Pakistan and more distant Iraq, Yemen, Libya and even Somalia.

Summing up the consequences of the U.S. strikes, Amnesty International USA stated: “In recent years, we have investigated civilian harm from U.S. air strikes and U.S.-led Coalition airstrikes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Somalia, and found that thousands of civilians have been killed or seriously injured by U.S. air strikes (both using drones and manned aircraft) with little accountability.”

Finally. the 2003 invasion of Iraq by a U.S.-led coalition—launched on the dubious or at least unsubstantiated allegations that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was producing weapons of mass destruction—wrought untold misery on millions of Iraqi civilians and a death toll upwards of 300,000 non-combatants.

Closing caveat

The current vogue of berating Israel is both unfounded and unfair. Lending this abuse support or sympathy will only serve to fan the flames of today’s smoldering embers of hatred that will eventually engulf those who propagate it.

The post Misplaced Moral Outrage on Civilian Casualties first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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