make a donation

Why Donate to FLAME?

By supporting FLAME, you help fund our ads in national media, like U.S. News and World Report, The New York Times, The Nation, The National Review, The American Spectator, The Washington Times National Weekly, and others. You help publish our messages in Jewish publications, both in the U.S. and in Israel, among them The International Edition of the Jerusalem Post. Finally, your donation helps us publish our messages monthly in over fifty small-town newspapers, all across the United States and Canada.

Facts and Logic About
the Middle East
P.O. Box 590359
San Francisco, CA 94159
(415) 356-7801

February 18, 2009

Media attack Israel using bad "facts"—when will it stop?

Dear Friend of FLAME:

Since the Gaza conflict ended a few weeks ago, the international media have had some time to reflect on events as they actually occurred---as opposed to the events as they were reported.

Among numerous examples of inaccurate and at times blatantly false reporting, a few stand out. One of the most notorious examples was the report that Israel supposedly bombed a UN school, resulting in 43 deaths. Please read the article below by Patrick Martin of the Canadian paper, the Globe and Mail, in which he describes the results of their detailed investigation in Gaza.

As it (not so surprisingly) turns out, no Palestinians were killed in the school or even within the school compound.

The Washington Post also recently issued a correction on the UN school story (though it is worth noting that it was placed within the inside pages of the Saturday edition). Why haven’t the BBC, CNN, the Guardian, or the NY Times issued retractions or corrections of their coverage over this story?

Another example involved the (now infamous as a result of their al-Dura story) French TV station, France 2. They showed video footage that they originally claimed was of an Israeli air strike on a civilian area in Gaza. They were later forced to admit that they had used old footage from a 2005 video showing the explosion of a truck filled with arms in the Jabaliya refugee camp.

It has now also come to light that the number of Palestinian deaths in Gaza was wildly over-reported. Far from the 1,300 deaths reported by many news outlets, the Italian newspaper, Corriere della Sera, concluded that 500-600 Palestinians were killed. And of these, most were Hamas fighers.

Reports are only now coming out about the killing and maiming of Fatah supports in Gaza (here is a list of the 181 Fatah victims). Hamas has also been accused by the UN of stealing food and medicine being sent in by donors. UNRWA, the UN agency whose specific purpose is to provide for the Palestinian people, now has to be wary of blatant Hamas aggression.

It has been a modest vindication of Israeli action during the conflict, now that the extreme bias of international media has been proven. But the damage has already been done. This atrocious reporting was in part responsible for the rise in anti-Semitic attacks throughout the world, specifically in Venezuela, where a Caracas synagogue was attacked on January 30th. Now the country’s 10,000 Jews can only wonder what might come next.

Rather than focus on the important fact that Israel went further than any other army in history to warn civilians of impeding attacks (thereby divulging their attack plans in the process), the media jumped at the chance to criticize Israel once again.

As rockets continue to fall on Israel after the "end" of the conflict, one would hope (against hope) that Israel will get a little more integrity out of the BBCs of the world when the inevitable next conflict occurs.

Best regards,

Dave Nogradi
FLAME Hotline Contributor


This of course isn’t the first time that the international media has misinformed us of facts concerning the Middle East. For more myths fed to us by the media, along with the actual facts, please read FLAME’s position paper on the subject: "Myths About Israel and the Middle East (I): Do the media feed us fiction, instead of fact?" This explanation has been published nationwide in dozens of publications, and has reached tens of millions of Americans. Please review this position paper and pass along the truth to others. Most of all, if you agree that this kind of public relations effort on Israel’s behalf is critical, I urge you to support us. Remember: FLAME’s powerful ability to influence public opinion comes from individuals like you, one by one. I hope you’ll consider giving a donation now, as you’re able---with $500, $250, $100, or even $18. (Remember, your donation to FLAME is tax deductible.) To donate online, just go to Now more than ever, we need your help to ensure that Israel gets the support she needs---the support of truth---while so many malign her.

Account of Israeli attack doesn't hold up to scrutiny
by Patrick Martin, Globe and Mail, January 29, 2009

JABALYA, GAZA STRIP - Most people remember the headlines: Massacre Of Innocents As UN School Is Shelled; Israeli Strike Kills Dozens At UN School.

They heralded the tragic news of Jan. 6, when mortar shells fired by advancing Israeli forces killed 43 civilians in the Jabalya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. The victims, it was reported, had taken refuge inside the Ibn Rushd Preparatory School for Boys, a facility run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

The news shocked the world and was compared to the 1996 Israeli attack on a UN compound in Qana, Lebanon, in which more than 100 people seeking refuge were killed. It was certain to hasten the end of Israel's attack on Gaza, and would undoubtedly lead the list of allegations of war crimes committed by Israel.

There was just one problem: The story, as etched in people's minds, was not quite accurate.

Physical evidence and interviews with several eyewitnesses, including a teacher who was in the schoolyard at the time of the shelling, make it clear: While a few people were injured from shrapnel landing inside the white-and-blue-walled UNRWA compound, no one in the compound was killed. The 43 people who died in the incident were all outside, on the street, where all three mortar shells landed.

Stories of one or more shells landing inside the schoolyard were inaccurate.

While the killing of 43 civilians on the street may itself be grounds for investigation, it falls short of the act of shooting into a schoolyard crowded with refuge-seekers.

The teacher who was in the compound at the time of the shelling says he heard three loud blasts, one after the other, then a lot of screaming. "I ran in the direction of the screaming [inside the compound]," he said. "I could see some of the people had been injured, cut. I picked up one girl who was bleeding by her eye, and ran out on the street to get help. But when I got outside, it was crazy hell. There were bodies everywhere, people dead, injured, flesh everywhere."

The teacher, who refused to give his name because he said UNRWA had told the staff not to talk to the news media, was adamant: "Inside [the compound] there were 12 injured, but there were no dead."

"Three of my students were killed," he said. "But they were all outside."

Hazem Balousha, who runs an auto-body shop across the road from the UNRWA school, was down the street, just out of range of the shrapnel, when the three shells hit. He showed a reporter where they landed: one to the right of his shop, one to the left, and one right in front.

"There were only three," he said. "They were all out here on the road."

News of the tragedy travelled fast, with aid workers and medical staff quoted as saying the incident happened at the school, the UNRWA facility where people had sought refuge.

Soon it was presented that people in the school compound had been killed. Before long, there was worldwide outrage.

Sensing a public-relations nightmare, Israeli spokespeople quickly asserted that their forces had only returned fire from gunmen inside the school. (They even named two militants.) It was a statement from which they would later retreat, saying there were gunmen in the vicinity of the school.

No witnesses said they saw any gunmen. (If people had seen anyone firing a mortar from the middle of the street outside the school, they likely would not have continued to mill around.)

John Ging, UNRWA's operations director in Gaza, acknowledged in an interview this week that all three Israeli mortar shells landed outside the school and that "no one was killed in the school."

"I told the Israelis that none of the shells landed in the school," he said.

Why would he do that?

"Because they had told everyone they had returned fire from gunmen in the school. That wasn't true."

Mr. Ging blames the Israelis for the confusion over where the victims were killed. "They even came out with a video that purported to show gunmen in the schoolyard. But we had seen it before," he said, "in 2007."

The Israelis are the ones, he said, who got everyone thinking the deaths occurred inside the school.

"Look at my statements," he said. "I never said anyone was killed in the school. Our officials never made any such allegation."

Speaking from Shifa Hospital in Gaza City as the bodies were being brought in that night, an emotional Mr. Ging did say: "Those in the school were all families seeking refuge. ... There's nowhere safe in Gaza."

And in its daily bulletin, the World Health Organization reported: "On 6 January, 42 people were killed following an attack on a UNRWA school ..."

The UN's Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs got the location right, for a short while. Its daily bulletin cited "early reports" that "three artillery shells landed outside the UNRWA Jabalia Prep. C Girls School ..." However, its more comprehensive weekly report, published three days later, stated that "Israeli shelling directly hit two UNRWA schools ..." including the one at issue.

Such official wording helps explain the widespread news reports of the deaths in the school, but not why the UN agencies allowed the misconception to linger.

"I know no one was killed in the school," Mr. Ging said. "But 41 innocent people were killed in the street outside the school. Many of those people had taken refuge in the school and wandered out onto the street.

"The state of Israel still has to answer for that. What did they know and what care did they take?"

If you'd like a printer-friendly, text version of this newsletter click the button below.

How many times have you heard someone lament that Israel doesn't have good public relations? By supporting FLAME, you help one of the world's most powerful information efforts to spread the truth about Israel and the Middle East conflict. Please note that because FLAME is a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation, your donation is tax-deductible.

If you know of a friend or colleague who would appreciate learning more Facts and Logic About the Middle East, please forward this issue of the FLAME HOTLINE to them using the link below.

If you have received this issue of the FLAME HOTLINE from a friend or colleague and you'd like to subscribe, please use the link below.

Our Ads and Positions | Donate | Our Letters to Editors | Our Acquisition Letters
FLAME's Purpose | Subscribe to Hotline Alerts | Home

©2009 FLAME. All rights reserved. | Site Credits | Contact Us

You are receiving this email because you have requested news, facts and analysis about Israel and the Mideast conflict.