A nice, short catchy post title befitting an Israeli minister who wouldn’t know the truth if it bit him in the ass. Avigdor Lieberman told the world media yesterday that Yasser Murtaja, the Gaza journalist murdered by IDF sniper fire last week, was a “Hamas terrorist:”
Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Lieberman said that Murtaja was a “terrorist” who had been on the Hamas payroll since 2011. He said Murtaja had used a drone to collect intelligence on Israeli forces along the border.
“This is a member of the military arm of Hamas who holds a rank parallel to that of captain, who was active in Hamas for many years,” Lieberman said. “Once again we see how Hamas uses the media, ambulances and patients, including cancer patients who are sent to hospitals in Israel,” to carry out “terrorist missions.”
Lieberman provided no evidence to support his allegations. Israel’s military said it is still investigating and was not able to confirm Lieberman’s claims.
Note that last sentence. Lieberman didn’t offer evidence for two reasons: 1. Israel almost never offers evidence; 2. He doesn’t have any.
Murtaja’s brother angrily denounced the defense minister:
In Gaza, Murtaja’s brother, Mutasem, angrily denied Lieberman’s claims.
“He spreads lies to get himself out of the impasse,” he said. “Yasser was filming the protests with simple cameras to show they are peaceful.”
Reports of Murtaja’s funeral note that no Hamas gunmen were present as would customarily be the case if the photographer were a Hamas member. Certainly no senior officer in Hamas, as Lieberman claimed he was, would have a funeral without the presence of his military comrades.
A confidential Israeli source tells me that Lieberman is lying. And yes, he used those words precisely: “”Lieberman is lying. How can ‘a Hamas terrorist’ get help from USAID?” My source knows this is the case because Murtaja has been vetted for projects by USAID:
The State Department said Tuesday that the media production company had recently received an $11,700 grant from the U.S. government. Ain Media became a USAID program beneficiary last month under a program that supports private sector development. The State Department said the grant was still in its early stages, and no equipment or technical assistance has been provided.
It said the grant was vetted according to strict U.S. government requirements of USAID-funded assistance.
Though the reporter who wrote this passage only alludes to this, let me be clear: my source knows that USAID vets all of its foreign consultants thoroughly and will not hire anyone with any affiliation with parties or organizations which are banned under U.S. law. Hamas is one such entity. So if Lieberman’s claim was true, then Murtaja could never have worked for USAID. Since he did, Lieberman’s lying.
Should you ask why my source has such confidence in the vetting process of the U.S. government: that’s because the Shabak, which is responsible to ferreting out Palestinian (and Jewish, but that’s another story) terrorists, has been forced to admit some painful errors that embarrassed it and the U.S. government in the past. I reported here that a Palestinian woman entrepreneur who’d been approved by the U.S. consulate for participation in a State Department sponsored exhibition, was arrested by the Israeli anti-terror agency and called a terrorist. The only problem: she wasn’t. Not only wasn’t she, but the State Department had done its own vetting of her and determined her record was absolutely clean. Shabak released her and conceded its error.
So some parts of the Israeli security apparatus have learned from their mistakes. And others just make it up as they go along. The upshot: Lieberman’s lying. He’s lying because the IDF is suffering a black eye for murdering a Palestinian journalist in cold blood. Not only that, Breaking the Silence just released a recent video shot by an IDF sniper as his comrade murders a Gaza protester and then shouts: “Take that you son of a bitch.”
Not good days for the IDF. So what’s the best way to distract from the bad PR? Blame the victim. In the past, Israeli police called a little Palestinian boy burned to death by Jewish terrorists a homosexual, claiming he was murdered in an honor killing. These are the sorts of lies we’re talking about. Lies which smear the victim, but which should, if there were justice in the world, smear the liar instead.
Further, note that Lieberman all but declares that any Palestinian journalist who flies a drone is a terrorist. Let’s parse this: Israel, which pioneered the use of drones in targeted killings of Palestinians, is kosher. But a Palestinian who uses a drone to capture a news event he is covering is a terrorist.
Lest you think this is a one-off event, it’s not. Israel has bombed the press offices of reporters in Gaza before. And during the current series of protests it’s continued assaulting the media. In this 972 Magazine piece, Gaza journalists demand their Israeli counterparts take their part and defend their right to practice their profession. The Israeli response: silence.
Canada’s Israel Lobby Attacks Press Freedom in Gaza Reporting
In Canada, the nation’s leading press advocacy NGO, the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, released a statement denouncing Israel’s attack on journalists in Gaza. The statement called for the Canadian government to take action as well. The Israel Lobby, via a pro-Israel advocacy group, Honest [sic] Reporting, began blasting CJFE for its violation of some imaginary tenet of journalism that you cannot engage in political advocacy. As a result, both the board chair and several Canadian Broadcasting Corporation officials sitting on the CJFE board resigned. Tonight, the remaining members are meeting to determine whether the organization will disband. Even if it survives, the staff member who wrote the original statement stands to lose his job.
Returning to Lieberman’s bald-faced lies, they remind me of the Russian response any time they’re caught red-handed assassinating a hated figure like Skripal or Nemtsov, or sabotaging a U.S. presidential election. Look for the easiest lie you can tell and throw it in the face of the western media like sand at the beach. It will confuse and annoy those you seek to distract for long enough for you to divert attention from yourself as the culprit. Keep in mind that Lieberman was born and raised in the Soviet era. Many high level Israeli officials believe he continues to be a Russian intelligence asset. So Lieberman is well-trained in this system and uses its tools whenever convenient. Nor is he the only Israeli official who does so. Virtually every prime minister and general lies serially and almost congenitally.
Any journalist who accepts his claims at face value without pronouncing the proper amount of skepticism is a fool.