Wishing a very happy Shavuot to all those readers celebrating.
In the all too uniform world of Middle East-focused journalism produced by Western writers, Michael Totten stands out as a rare exception to the rule. Few can claim his level of insight into the way the region works and in particular his understanding of the dynamics at work in Lebanon.
Below is an excerpt from one of his recent articles.
“It’s a simple to understand formula: Always point the finger at Israel. If a different enemy deserves blame instead, accuse them of collaboration with Israel. When Israel is clearly responsible (as it was in this case), accuse your enemies of collaboration with Israel just because and for extra credit. […]
Assad is especially adept at this game. Everyone, especially journalists who quote people for a living, needs to understand that. Yet they don’t. The BBC let Assad write their headline. Israeli strikes on Syria ‘co-ordinated with terrorists‘ it says. That’s the actual headline. It was literally written by Assad’s foreign ministry.
Of course the words “co-ordinated with terrorists” are inside quotation marks, and the article makes it clear that this accusation comes from the Syrian government, but most people who see the headline won’t read the article. Casual readers of the BBC Web site won’t even notice the quote marks. Israel is coordinating with Al Qaeda in Syria? Really, BBC? You’re broadcasting that ludicrous accusation with a straight face?”
Read the rest here.
Two days after the article’s initial publication – and much public outcry – the BBC amended the headline, which now reads “Syria says Israeli strikes ‘co-ordinated with terrorists’”.
Whilst that correction is of course welcome, the question we still need to ask is how the original headline got published in the first place - and stayed up for two days.
Tonight and tomorrow Israel celebrates the reunification of Jerusalem on the 28th of Iyyar 5727 (June 7th 1967), nineteen years after the Jordanian occupation and the expulsion of Jews from Atarot, Neve Ya’akov, the Old City and other Jerusalem neighbourhoods such as Shimon HaTsadik and Nahalat Shimon. Speaking later in the day, then Minister of Defence Moshe Dayan said:
“This morning, the Israel Defense Forces liberated Jerusalem. We have united Jerusalem, the divided capital of Israel. We have returned to the holiest of our holy places, never to part from it again. To our Arab neighbors we extend, also at this hour—and with added emphasis at this hour—our hand in peace. And to our Christian and Muslim fellow citizens, we solemnly promise full religious freedom and rights. We did not come to Jerusalem for the sake of other peoples’ holy places, and not to interfere with the adherents of other faiths, but in order to safeguard its entirety, and to live there together with others, in unity.”
Happy Jerusalem Day!
Sixty five years ago today, on April 15th 1948, the retreating British Mandate authorities abandoned the fortress at Nebi Yusha (today known as Metzudat Koach) which they had constructed a decade earlier as part of their attempts to put down the Arab revolt. The strategically located fortress was handed over by the British to Arab forces, thus threatening to cut off access to the Jewish communities in the Galilee panhandle, the Menara Ridge and Ramot Naftlai in the war which was sure to follow the British abandonment of the mandate for Palestine.
In the hope that the fortress’ new occupants would not yet have had time to organize themselves, later the same evening a group of soldiers from the Palmach and Golani brigades launched an unsuccessful attempt to capture the fortress, in which four soldiers were killed. Five days later, on April 20th 1948, the Palmach made another attempt to take the strategic point which also did not succeed and in which 22 soldiers were killed. A third attempt – this time successful – to take the fortress was carried out by the Palmach on May 16th 1948 – the day after the declaration of Israeli independence – within the framework of ‘Operation Yiftach‘ to liberate the Upper Galilee. Two soldiers died in that battle.
The fortress was later renamed to honour the twenty eight soldiers who fell in the attempts to capture it, with the word ‘Koach’ in Hebrew being comprised of the letters כ”ח – in gematria 28 – and also meaning ‘strength’. A memorial to the fallen soldiers is to be found next to the fortress – which is still in use as a base today by the Border Police and appears on its insignia – overlooking the Hula Valley.
The memorial site to the 121 soldiers who lost their lives in the second Lebanon war in 2006 lies on Mount Adir – near Kibbutz Sassa in the Upper Galilee – and also serves as an observation point overlooking the border and parts of southern Lebanon where much of the fighting took place.
Tonight, Israelis come together to remember those soldiers and all the other members of the security forces who make up the 23,085 who have fallen defending the country, along with the victims of terror attacks. May all their memories be blessed.