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Media Analyses





UPDATED: BDS Supporter Kills Off Living Palestinian Girl


Dec. 15 -- Caught red-handed in a blatant lie, a couple of BDS activists in California are digging themselves into an ever deeper hole. On Nov. 10, BDS activist Sandra O'Neill, who had recently returned from a three-week trip to the West Bank and Israel claimed in the Chico News and Review, “While I was there two Palestinian children, ages 6 and 4, were shot and killed by trigger-happy watchtower guards because they were playing too close to the 30-foot-high separation wall.”

CAMERA earlier documented the falsehood, examining detailed reports issued by the United Nations' Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights showing that no civilians, of any age, were killed. The News and Review today published a CAMERA column addressing the falsehood. Not to be deterred, however, Emily Alma, O'Neill's BDS colleague and trip co-traveller, also published in today's paper. In her letter-to-the-editor, she kills off a living Palestinian girl in her effort to cover for her lying compatriot. 

Alma pretends that an Al-Haq report states that a child was killed Oct. 25. In fact, the report in question says no such thing. Alma writes:

The Nov. 3, 2011, issue of Al-Haq reports, "On October 25 four-year-old Asil Mahmoud 'Arar'ra was shot in the neck while she was playing about a hundred meters away from the wall. Asil was first taken to the emergency center in 'Anata, but her injury was too severe and doctors were unable to treat her and called for an ambulance. The ambulance was unable to enter through the 'Anata-Shu'fat checkpoint due to traffic and the failure of Israeli soldiers to facilitate its entry. Several minutes later, Israeli soldiers finally allowed Asil's grandmother and a nurse from the clinic to carry Asil across the checkpoint into the waiting ambulance." Asil died of her wounds in the hospital." (Emphasis added.)

Everything that Alma quoted directly from the Al-Haq report, which she sets off with quotation marks, does in fact appear in the document. But she then fabricates, stating, "Asil died of her wounds in the hospital." In fact, the Al-Haq report states: "Doctors found that her spinal cord had been severed at the fourth and fifth vertebrate as a result of her gunshot wound, leaving her paralyzed from the neck down." While 'Ara'ra's reported injury is horrific, it in no way substantiates O'Neill's fabrication that two children were "shot and killed by trigger-happy watchtower guards." Furthermore, the circumstances behind the girl's injury are unclear, and it is not known that Israeli soldiers are responsible. As the United Nations' Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs stated in its weekly report about Israeli-Palestinian conflict, "Also this week, a four-year-old Palestinian girl from the Bedouin community of ‘Anata village (Jerusalem governorate) was injured in the neck by live ammunition. Circumstances of the incident and identity of the perpetrator are still unclear" ("Protection of Civilians Weekly Report," Oct. 19-25, 2011).

Likewise, the Palestinian Ma'an News Agency reported with far more honesty than Alma demonstrated:

A young Palestinian girl was shot late Tuesday in an incident near Israel's separation wall near the Anata district in occupied East Jerusalem, Palestinian and Israeli officials said Wednesday.

The circumstances of the shooting were not immediately clear. The family has blamed Israel's army but an Israeli military official denied involvement in the girl's injury.

To sum up, rather than retracting O'Neill's Nov. 10 false charge regarding the deliberate killing of two young children, as CAMERA requested, News and Review editors opted to publish a CAMERA column while also accepting two letters from Emily Alma (today's, in which she kills of Arara, and Dec. 8), leaving readers to wonder "Whose facts are true?" That, in fact, was the heading of last week's letters.

But there is no doubt concerning the truth. The only question is whether Chico News and Review will finally come clean to its readers, issuing a correction noting the O'Neill-Alma charge regarding the killing of two children, including Arara, was false.

Dec. 26 Update: Chico Runs CAMERA Letter

Rather than correct Alma's latest falsehood about young Arara (not to mention the earlier fabrications by both women), the paper has decided to evade responsibility. CAMERA had written editor Robert Speer to request corrections, but he instead published a truncated version of that letter as a letter to the editor Dec. 22. It reads:

Re “Transforming Israel” (Letters, by Emily Alma, Dec. 15): I just had the opportunity to read Emily Alma’s letter, in which she takes you and your readers for fools by covering up Sandra O’Neill’s original fabrication (Letters, Nov. 10) with a lie of her own.

O’Neill had originally charged that two Palestinian children, 4 and 6, were allegedly “shot and killed by trigger-happy watchtower guards” because they were playing too close to the separation barrier. In an attempt to defend O’Neill, Alma falsely writes that 4-year-old Asil Arara was killed on Oct. 25. In fact, while gravely injured in unclear circumstances, Asil is thankfully alive.

Attempting to cover up for O’Neill’s fabrication, Alma pretends that an Al-Haq report states that a child was killed by the fence on Oct. 25. In fact, the report in question says no such thing. Everything that Alma quotes directly from the Al-Haq report, which she sets off with quotation marks, does in fact appear in the document. But she then fabricates, stating that the girl “died of her wounds in the hospital.” In fact, the Al-Haq report states: “Doctors found that her spinal cord had been severed at the fourth and fifth vertebrate as a result of her gunshot wound, leaving her paralyzed from the neck down.”

While Asil’s reported injury is horrific, it in no way substantiates O’Neill’s fabrication that two children were “shot and killed by trigger-happy watchtower guards.” Furthermore, the circumstances behind the girl’s injury are unclear, and it is not known that Israeli soldiers are responsible.

Likewise, the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency reported with far more honesty than Alma demonstrated: “A young Palestinian girl was shot late Tuesday in an incident near Israel’s separation wall near the Anata district in occupied East Jerusalem, Palestinian and Israeli officials said Wednesday. The circumstances of the shooting were not immediately clear. The family has blamed Israel’s army. But an Israeli military official denied involvement in the girl’s injury.”

Tamar Sternthal
Tel Aviv

Noticeably cut from CAMERA's letter to Speer was the fact that the United Nations itself confirmed that "[c]ircumstances of the [Asil Arara] incident and identity of the perpetrator are still unclear." (Also, the editor managed to introduce an error. This writer writes from Modi'in, not Tel Aviv.)


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