בניגוד לכתבת היח”צ של השב”כ ב”הארץ”, לפי נתוני השב”כ מספר הפיגועים דווקא עלה בתקופה האחרונה
I’ve often complained here about the overly cozy relationship between Israeli journalists and their sources in the intelligence/security apparatus. Tonight, we’ll hear from a journalist who’s especially guilty of practicing such stenography.
Haaretz’s Amos Harel, wrote a paean to the Shin Bet’s efforts to use “big data” to ferret out Palestinian would-be terrorists before they launch terror attacks. According to his claim (again regurgitated from the mouth of the intelligence services), these Palestinians are so mesmerized by becoming shahids and so passionate in their mission that they simply must tell the world their plans. By analyzing Facebook posts by Palestinians, the Shin Bet, like the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, “always gets their man:”
Israel’s security services have used the internet to thwart hundreds of potential terror attacks in less than a year, with the Shin Bet security service and Military Intelligence stopping 2,200 Palestinians at various stages of planning and preparing for attacks, mostly stabbings and car-rammings.
The Israel Defense Forces and Shin Bet arrested more than 400 of these would-be perpetrators, and some were put on trial. The names of a similar number were passed on to the Palestinian Authority, which arrested them and warned them against planning attacks on Israel. The rest received warning conversations from the Shin Bet and IDF, or sometimes their parents did.
There are numerous claims that prove problematic here: first, there is no proof offered that the Shin Bet claims are accurate. Second, do we really believe that a Shin Bet agent who truly feared a Palestinian Facebook user was planning a terror attack would be satisfied with a “warning conversation” with the suspect’s parents to take their child better in hand? Third, note that the Shin Bet arrested 400, but only some were put on trial. What’s unspoken here is that many of the 400 remain imprisoned, held without charges or trial. Even those who are charged are held under ludicrous charges.
One of these is Dareen Tatour. She was arrested for publishing a poem on Facebook in which she encouraged Palestinian resistance to Occupation. She did not call for terror attacks. She did not glorify violence. She wrote a poem. It praised resistance. Yet any nationalist statement from Palestinians is viewed by the security apparatus as “incitement.” In the eyes of Israeli spooks, “incitement” is the same as terrorism since it allegedly causes terrorism (again no proof forthcoming on that claim). Israel has made poetry a crime when practiced by Palestinians.
Let’s amplify her act of resistance by publishing her poem in full here:
Resist, My People, Resist Them
In Jerusalem, I dressed my wounds and breathed my sorrows
And carried the soul in my palm
For an Arab Palestine.
I will not succumb to the “peaceful solution,”
Never lower my flags
Until I evict them from my land.
I cast them aside for a coming time.
Resist, my people, resist them.
Resist the settler’s robbery
And follow the caravan of martyrs.
Shred the disgraceful constitution
Which imposed degradation and humiliation
And deterred us from restoring justice.
They burned blameless children;
As for Hadil, the sniper shot her in public,
Killed her in broad daylight.
Resist, my people, resist them.
Resist the colonialist’s onslaught.
Pay no mind to his agents among us
Who chain us with the peaceful illusion.
Do not fear doubtful tongues;
The truth in your heart is stronger,
As long as you resist in a land
That has lived through raids and victory.
So Ali called from his grave:
Resist, my rebellious people.
Write me as prose on the agarwood;
My remains have you as a response.
Resist, my people, resist them.
This poem is no different from equally powerful, rage-filled poems by Chaim Nachman-Bialik, Israel’s national poet, decrying the Kiev pogrom of 1903. It is no different from a score of other Israeli poems on similar subjects by Uri Tzvi Greenberg, Natan Alterman and many others.
Tatour is certainly one of those the secret police include in this count. Yet her poem has nothing to do with terrorism. So if Dareen Tatour is a Shin Bet ‘terrorist,’ how many other Palestinians held were arrested under similarly flimsy claims? I’ve venture to say a huge proportion of these 400 (if that number itself is even trustworthy).
The title of this blog post refers to the Shin Bet’s purported exploitation of Big Data to expose Palestinian terror plots. I prefer to see them as Little David with their social media slingshot taking aim Big Brother.
Harel has no interest in the issue any real journalist in a democratic society would ponder: free speech. What business has the security apparatus of arresting anyone for publishing political speech on Facebook? What responsibility does Facebook have to protect its users targeted in this fashion? None, apparently since the justice minister is proposing a law which would force it to comply with all demands from the authorities to censor material they deem incitement, or whatever phrase they deem appropriate. In response, Facebook and Twitter have scurried under the nearest chair like frightened rabbits.
If this doesn’t concern you then think how you’d feel if the GOP passed a law demanding that Twitter, Facebook and all social media platforms take down any posts the NSA and FBI deem dangerous or disturbing or encouraging terrorism. You’d fight like hell against that. So what’s different between here and there aside from those big, bad Arab terrorists threatening to destroy Israel? If you credit that last phrase with any truth, just think about the terror threat Donald Trump and his minions are ginning up to justify their own draconian policies: Islamist terrorists, Mexican rapists at our doors. Just how far do you really think we are from Israel? And how fast do you think we can get there? Pretty fast if the results of the last election are any indication.
Here are more dubious claims by Harel which boast of Big Brother’s success in intimidating Palestinians into acquiescence:
So far the move has significantly reduced the number of attacks. The Palestinian young people apparently feel that Israeli Big Brother is keeping an eye on them, and they’re also being deterred based on the fear that their families will be punished for their actions.
Harel’s claim of a decrease in attacks is refuted by Shabak statistics themselves (you don’t expect an Israeli journalist to do research to document a source’s claims, do you?). These are the monthly number of attacks over the past several months:
November – 95.
December – 98.
January – 100.
February – 102.
March – 119.
The numbers had been declining until November, after which they rose again. What Harel may’ve meant is that the number of “successful” attacks in which there are injuries or death has declined. But the raw number has, if anything increased. Which should be a worrying sign if you were a good journalist doing real reporting.
This is an example of what I call a “cause and effect fallacy:” the alleged reduction of attacks is attributed to the social media assault on free speech without any proof offered that there is a relation between cause and effect. Further, the number of Palestinian attacks, while declining, has by no means ended. There was one in Jerusalem this week in which a British Jewish woman was killed on the light rail line.
And another specious claim by Harel here:
…Gamil Tamimi. who stabbed to death the British student Hannah Bladon in Jerusalem on Friday [and other similar lone wolf terrorists] appear to have been motivated by media coverage of previous attacks…
Many of the stabbing and car-ramming assailants were from the fringes of Palestinian society who perhaps preferred “a martyr’s death” as a way out of their problems.
This plays into the totally unfounded claim that the international media is at fault for publicizing such attacks. It’s the media which glorifies these sad-sack human beings who have nothing going in their life except the chance for martyrdom (or so the Israeli narrative goes). The male assailants are unemployed, mentally ill, vagrants. The women mentally disturbed, in troubled marriages, etc. This tactic is the equivalent of blaming the rape victim for her victimization. Recall that the Israeli police first suckered the media into reporting that Mohammed Abu Khdeir was gay and murdered by his family in an honor killing. Later, they admitted he’d been burned alive by settler thugs seeking revenge.
This is a disgusting racist insult, so typical of Israeli discourse. Once again, Harel and his Shin Bet source cheapens and demeans the Palestinian life and struggle. It permits Israel to abscond from moral responsibility for its own crimes against Palestinians. It permits Israelis to soothe their consciences (such as they are) and absolve themselves of guilt. An absolution they don’t deserve.
This is a shameful exercise in pander-journalism: Harel writes an encomium to Nadav Argaman, the new Shin Bet chief, gets a pat on the head for being a good little poodle, then the next time there’s a big story the Shabak gives him the scoop. It’s the game so many Israeli journalists play. A nasty, seedy game that gives real journalism a bad name. Lest there be any doubt about Harel’s usefulness to the security apparatus, a well-informed Israeli source told me the Shin Bet is exceedingly proud of getting this story on the front page of Haaretz:
“For Shabak’s unofficial spokesman to make the main headline of this leftist paper is not a small thing; It doesn’t happen frequently.”
Excuse me while I’m ill. For a more skeptical version of this story read Maan.