Buried somewhere within a 17-page report issued on March 6th by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) was this terse sentence: “On 14 November, a woman, her 11-month-old infant, and an 18-year-old adult in Al-Zaitoun were killed by what appeared to be a Palestinian rocket that fell short of Israel.”
There was nothing in the report to tell us that this sentence represented the obverse of what had been reported at the time the incident occurred.
At the time, lurid photos of an anguished father holding out his dead infant in open arms, crying out to the heavens for a reason, “Why, WHY??” had accompanied stories placing the blame for the infant’s death squarely on Israel in such august publications as the BBC, the Washington Post, the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph, and the Huffington Post.
Journalists vied to paint a word picture of evil (Jewish) villain and innocent (Arab) victim. The Israelis had deliberately attacked Gaza, said the stories. They, the Jews, were targeting civilians. Anyone who surfed the “Net was treated to this story in one version or another, each more colorful and imaginary than the last.
That was the tenor of those articles accompanied by that horrible photo all during the war. That was the tenor of the world media showing its bias, which never in history has been on the side of the Jews, whether they were in the Warsaw Ghetto or in Sderot. After all, this is what the people want. They want to see tragedy. They want to see a father’s tears. They want a villain and a victim, someone they can blame and someone they can pity. As long as the victim is not a Jew. Not, for instance, a FOGEL.
The BBC: “I saw four children under the age of 10 buried amid the rubble of a house when it was hit by a huge Israeli missile.”
The Washington Post (quoting BBC Middle East bureau chief Paul Danahar’s Twitter account): “’[Question] asked here is: if Israel can kill a man riding on a moving motorbike (as they did last month) how did Jihad’s son get killed.’”
The Guardian: “The 11-month-old son of a BBC staffer was killed yesterday during an air strike by the Israeli army on the Gaza strip.”
The Daily Telegraph: “Israel has warned it was only the start of an operation targeting militant groups in Gaza, which comes as the Jewish state prepares for general elections in January.”
The Huffington Post: “What did my son do to die like this?” he said. “What was his mistake? He is ten or eleven months old. What did he do?”
Four Months Later
Now after the fact, four months later, the Jews are declared innocent, exonerated.
But you know what? It simply doesn’t matter.
It makes no difference that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is off the hook for the entire affair. It doesn’t matter that the words “United Nations Human Rights Council” are stamped on the report.
Not a whit.
What They Remember
What matters is the impression left behind of that graphic photo with its ugly false claims. That is what most people remember if they remember the incident at all. More likely, what most people remember is that Israelis target and kill little Arab children, without recalling the exact details. “Most people” would include those who read, for instance, the BBC, the Washington Post, the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph, and the Huffington Post.
The dry language of a UNHRC report just doesn’t cut it compared to the impression left by that gruesome photo and the condemnatory language blaming the Israelis. The UNHRC report didn’t even warrant much coverage. The Huffington Post ran something, so did the New York Daily and Yahoo News. But the rest of those publications mentioned above? They tacked a couple of lines onto the bottom of those four-month old stories. Voila: updates no one sees.
No one will look for those stories on the ‘Net. No one cares.
It’s simple logic, or perhaps psychology. That image is seared onto the collective mind. To the world, the Israelis will eternally be the people who killed that baby, though they did no such thing and could never do so.
And no one cares what the UN says in their official jargon in small print four months after the fact.
There are some Jews who do care. They have a need to bask in the absolution that will never come. They want a fair shake. They want to belong to the family of man. Like a petulant child they want and want and want and stamp their feet, however, the picture is what remains in the minds of people the world over.
This narrative only is the one that is perpetuated. The narrative that eats Israel from the inside out, exonerating evil and damning good—the good that exists in the form of the only democracy in the Middle East—the only place in the Middle East where the words “human rights” have any meaning at all.