A few weeks ago, Sojourners, a magazine that caters to liberal Evangelical Protestants in the United States, published an article that falsely portrays Israel at the center of a crisis for Christianity in the Middle East.
Through a combination of factual omissions, misinformation and the deceptive use of layout, the article (published in the July 2013 issue of the magazine) portrayed Israel as if it were driving Christians out of the region when in fact it is violent jihadists who are doing that. Blaming the Jewish state for consequences of Islamist violence against Christians in the Middle East is a sneaky, deceptive and ugly thing to do, but that’s what Sojourners did.
Instead of mending their ways, the editors at Sojourners have published another deceptive article involving Israel in the next issue of the magazine. And again, the magazine relied on factual omissions and a deceptive layout to put its story across.
The article, written by Ryan Rodrick Beiler and titled “Gaza: The Persistent Paradox” (which appears in the Sept-Oct 2012 issue of the magazine) highlights the undeniably tragic deaths of Palestinian civilians (such as 10 members of the Al Dalu family) during Operation Pillar of Defense, which took place in Nov. 2012.
The deaths of Palestinian civilians is a tragedy, but the fact remains, terrorists in the Gaza Strip attack civilians while hiding behind civilians, thus guaranteeing that civilian casualties will result. The whole point of the rocket attacks from Gaza is to disrupt Israeli life, provoke an armed response and then use the deaths of Palestinian civilians to demonize Israel. This is what they do.
Like many other writers in the West, Beiler, a photojournalist associated with the Mennonite Central Committee, an institution known for its anti-Israel bias, is all too willing to cooperate with terrorists who attack Israel.
A caption to the story reports that Runan was killed “when 10 Israeli missiles struck [the] mostly agricultural area in the Al Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City.” One of Beiler’s photos shows Arafat standing with children in front of a now demolished house, which presumably is his home. The photo can be seen in another venue – 972 Magazine – here.
The way Beiler and Sojourners tell the story, it’s as if the Israelis attacked the Arafat’s home/farm out of the blue.
A little digging reveals that Runan was killed on Nov. 14, 2012, when Hamas launched 74 rockets into Israel. Twenty seven of these rockets were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome; 47 landed in Israel.
The neighborhood, which Sojourners and Beiler describe as “mostly agricultural” is also a hotspot for rocket attacks against Israel. In fact, rocket teams use the groves and fields of Zeitoun as places to launch its longer range rocket (the Fajir 5) into Israel. Here’s an IDF map of the neighborhood.
All these facts, taken together, cast serious doubt on Arafat’s assertion that “No rockets were fired from our neighborhood.”
Of course, Arafat could be taken to say that no rockets were being fired from his neighborhood when his daughter was killed.
But as it turns out, the Palestinian Committee on Human Rights (PCHR) reports that Runan was killed five minutes before Omar Mishrawi was killed on Nov. 14.
At approximately 16:50, an Israeli warplane fired 3 missiles at a house belonging to Salah Jalal Arafat in al-Zaytoun neighborhood in the east of Gaza City. The house and a neighboring one belonging to Arafat’s brother were destroyed. One of Arafat’s children, 5-year-old Ranan, was killed and another two children and two women were wounded.At approximately 16:55, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at a house belonging to Ali Nemer al-Masharawi in al-Zaytoun neighborhood in the east of Gaza City. Two members of the family (a woman and a toddler) were killed: Hiba Aadel Fadel al-Masharawi, 19, and Omar Jihad al-Masharawi, 11 months. Additionally, a child from the same family was wounded.
While the PCHR’s times are approximate, it is clear that the two children were killed within minutes of one another. Given that a Hamas rocket likely killed Mishrawi, this indicates that rockets were being fired from the Al Zeitoun neighborhood at the time of Ranan’s death. This is further confirmed by two other sources.
The first source is an Associated Press article published on March 11, 2013. This article reports that a UN official, Matthias Behnke, “said Palestinian militants were firing rockets at Israel not far from the al-Masharawi home.”
Then there is an article from Electronic Intifada published on May 1, 2013. The article, based on the testimony from Mohammed Suliman, a sometime contributor to Electronic Intifada, reports the following:
… Palestinian armed groups were firing rockets towards Israel half a kilometer from the Masharawi home and Israeli strikes were targeting the sites of the rocket-launchers at the time of the incident, he said.“Now, what happened is that during this short period of exchange of fire between Palestinian groups and Israeli war planes, Masharawi’s house was hit. So it was very ambiguous what the cause of that attack was — it could be Palestinian rocket fire or Israeli war planes,” Suliman explained.
This raises a few questions:
How close together are the Mishrawi and Arafat homes? They are both in the Zeitoun neighborhood, which reports indicate isn’t very big. If the two homes are close to each other, this casts serious doubt on Arafat’s assertion that no rockets were being fired from his neighborhood.