Fisking Moammar

Walks like a duck (1)

To Fisk

verb. To deconstruct an article on a point by point basis in a highly critical manner. Derived from the name of journalist Robert Fisk, a frequent target of such critical articles in the blogosphere (qv).
Usage: Five Minutes for Israel did a severe fisking of an idiotic article in the Sydney Morning Herald today…”


Had I discovered this article in time it would definitely have been an Action Item. Still 165 comments do show that might have been overkill so I thought to do the next best thing and give it a thorough fisking. That such an article, even as an op-ed, might appear in Fairfax (2) publications is a stain on Australian journalism. Even in an op-ed there is a duty on newspapers to fact check.

Moammar Mashni adds nothing new to the debate but recycles so many Palestinian cliches that I hope this post will be a useful, if unavoidably long reference when the lies are repeated again and again.

Palestinians painted as animals while Israel goes scot-free

MOAMMAR MASHNI March 5, 2010 Comments 165

As the son of a Palestinian refugee expelled from his native homeland, [5MFI: Ludicrous as it might appear M.M. is not just the son of a refugee but a refugee himself. Unique amoung ethnic group the Palestinians have the privilege of inherited refugee status. Every other refugee loses refugee status when they reach safety] there are few things I cherish more than my gift of freedom. However, being born and bred in Australia has not shielded me from being tagged with a label that is the unfortunate lot of all first-generation Palestinians [5MFI: Actually he’s a first generation Australian]. To some, we simply do not exist, and when we do, we are terrorists, animals or sub-human [5MFI: Regrettably the terrorism and support for terrorism from is very human. No animal would act that way].

Such deliberate misrepresentations and stereotypes are constantly propagated, but to read unsubstantiated claims about Palestinians in a serious newspaper (Julie Szego, Comment, 3/3) was highly offensive [FMFI:.As expected the article made no generalized claim of all Palestinians as terrorists, animals or sub-humans. M.M. makes numerous unsubstantiated claims against Israel. To sum up the article on one foot: Israel should not have used stolen identities and forged passports particularly against friends like the Australians but the Dubai assassination was a justified defence of the citizens of Israel. Overall the article was highly critical of the Israeli government methods but accepted the mission was legitimate].

Over the years, Palestinians have been accused of terrible things. The Israelis claim that we use our children as human shields. Despite propagating this lie repeatedly, Israel has never provided conclusive proof of it. Nonetheless, the lie has come to be accepted as ”truth”. [5MFI: Palestinian use of human shields has been reported by all major media organizations, even those hostile to Israel such as the BBC (3). Moreover, Hamas openly applauds the use of Palestinians as human shields. This video is a must see. Is M.M. telling lies; exaggerating for effect or in a state of cognitive dissonance? Only his psychiatrist knows for sure.]

Yet contrary to such misconceptions, Amnesty International says in its report ”Israel/Gaza Operation ‘Cast Lead’: 22 days of death and destruction” that it was Israeli soldiers who used Palestinians as human shields. [5MFI: Amnesty International (4) accused both sides of using human shields. At best M.M. is telling half the truth].

Amnesty’s conclusion was unambiguous. It “did not find evidence that Hamas or other Palestinian groups violated the laws of war to the extent repeatedly alleged by Israel … In particular, it found no evidence that Hamas or other fighters directed the movement of civilians to shield military objectives from attacks.” But it did find ”that Israeli forces on several occasions during Operation ‘Cast Lead’ forced Palestinian civilians to serve as ‘human shields’.”  [5MFI: Amnesty International accused Hamas of war crimes. “Whether these attacks were intended to hit military or civilian objects, the use of unguided projectiles which could not be directed at specific targets, so placing the civilian population at risk, violates international humanitarian law and constitutes a war crime”. By this standard, each of the thousands of missiles fired over the eight years before and during Operation Cast Lead constitutes a separate war crime.]

Human Rights Watch, the UN and the internationally respected jurist Justice Richard Goldstone delivered similar findings. [5MFI: Criticism of the neutrality, honesty and professionalism of all three would require three more extra long posts but this is the first paragraph that M.M. writes that is not blatantly misleading.]

Goldstone, a South African Jew and ardent Zionist, [5MFI: I wonder if Goldstone’s ardent Zionism isn’t as manipulative and for the same reasons as the latest nude model/actress/whatever cavorting naked for PETA (6) while wearing fur at home] has been savagely attacked by Israel and its lobbyists since his report on violations by both Hamas and Israel was released. [5MFI: justifiably attacked for lack of neutrality of its members; acceptance of hearsay and uncollaborated evidence and for terms of reference prejudging the conclusion].

The 1.5 million Palestinians hermetically [5MFI: Israel permits about 90 trucks a day with food and vital supplies (7) and apparently luxuries and weapons travel fairly freely through the tunnels (8). Unpleasant- yes. Hermetic – No] sealed into the tiny Gaza enclave have been deprived of almost every basic provision for nearly four years because they elected politicians not to the world’s liking, [5MFI: The world sees Hamas as a terrorist group. I can’t think of any other group whose formation charter uses the word kill seven times. The sanctions  came to obstruct Hamas making war. ] yet Hamas was democratically elected in free and fair elections [5MFI: Is M.M. saying that when a democratically elected government goes to war it is excused the consequence or that when voters freely elect a government openly promising war they are somehow stripped of responsibility]?

Whatever grievances the world has with the Hamas leadership, the civilian population ought not to be punished for exercising its right to vote. [5MFI: Choosing war has its consequences, particularly when you lose. The voters knew of Hamas’s intention to go to war when they cast their ballots].

It does not mean that we should condone violence or terrorism carried out by Hamas militants, but neither should we condone the violence and acts of terror perpetrated by Israel. [5MFI: Wow, a second paragraph without a deliberately fae or misleading statement]!

In 1997, then Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu sanctioned the failed assassination attempt on Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal in Jordan, and were it not for Meshaal’s bodyguard, the assassins would have escaped. The ensuing diplomatic furore resulted in Netanyahu being forced to hand over the antidote that saved Meshaal from the poison injected by two Mossad agents travelling on fake Canadian passports.

Now Netanyahu is back as Israel’s Prime Minister, and again under his watch Israel is strongly suspected of carrying out an execution in a foreign country with the assassins fraudulently using the passports of various countries around the globe, including Australia. [5MFI: M.M. has finally come around to Julie Szego‘s article without in any way attempting to address her points that  Mahmoud al-Mahbhouh (sic) “was a perfectly legitimate target; far better he be removed without risk of ”collateral damage”, to use that ugly euphemism” or that “forged documents are as old as spying itself” . I’m curious and have no information. On what passport did Mahmoud al-Mahbhouh enter Dubai]?

While Israel blithely propagates falsehoods that stigmatise all Palestinians [5MFI: No evidence provided] , it sanctions murder [5MFI: Killing in war is not murder] and allows the identities of its own and foreign citizens to be dangerously compromised. [5MFI: By removing al-Mahbough hundreds of lives may have been saved].

We should feel reassured that our Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, a staunch ally of Israel, said that he would ”not be silent on the matter” of the three fraudulently used Australian passports and identities. That is to be expected. But equally, Rudd should speak out in support of the UN-backed Goldstone report that seeks accountability for the shocking actions during Israel’s war on Gaza in January last year. [5MFI: What is this a quid-pro-quo? Should Rudd support something he knows to be false?]

Instead, Australia voted once in the UN against a war crimes investigation and, since the passport revelations, it abstained – all the while maintaining its opposition to the Goldstone report. Such a lame response should cause us to wonder if Australia will really hold Israel to account. [5MFI: Probably a fair question. A better one would be, if Australia could have stopped the Bali bombing and needed to fake some documents to it should it have done so? The friends and relatives of the 88 Australians who died would probably answer in one voice, “Hell yeah”]

International law is there to safeguard all of the citizens of the world. Its strength is that it is universal: it knows no borders, religion, colour or creed – at least that’s what it was intended for. [5MFI: Hamas would say that Sharia Islamic Law overrides any other code of law and that they are not bound by any other code.]

As long as countries such as Australia allow Israel a free hand to do what it wants without any regard for international law, people everywhere will suddenly find our world a much more threatening place in which to live. [5MFI: What hypocrisy. If the world is a more threatening place than it is the people who hijack and fly planes into buildings who have made it so. Eliminating them makes the world safer]

As a Palestinian still tagged with ugly labels, that is not an experience I would wish on anyone. [5MFI: The experience of being labeled or the experience of flying in an aeroplane with someone wearing Semtex soled sneakers?]

Moammar Mashni is a spokesman for Australians for Palestine.

1 I have chosen the duck as icon for the more political posts. A duck has a left wing and a right wing and if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck …
2 Fairfax Media, with a market capitalization of over $5 billion is one of Australasia’s largest media companies.  It prints The Sydney Morning Herald and the Age, both of which have a reputation for serious journalism.
3 Palestinians’ high-risk human shield tactic, Alan Johnston, 20 November 2006
4 Gaza civilians endangered by the military tactics of both sides 8 January 2009
5 Palestinian Authority: Hamas fails to mount credible investigations into Gaza conflict violations 19 February 2010
6 Naomi Campbell models a sable coat… 15 years after Peta anti-fur advert Mail ONline, Lizzie Smith, 1 September 2009
7 Weekly Summary of Humanitarian Aid Transferred into the Gaza Strip IDF Spokesperson I March 2010
8 Smuggling fuels Gaza’s stalled economy BBC 31 December 2009

About David Guy

B.A./B.C.A. (Communication and Media Arts) University of Wollongong, AUSTRALIA M.A. in Government (Diplomacy and Conflict Studies) Inter Disciplinary Center, Herzliya, ISRAEL Twitter @5MFI
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