Israel vindicated in report on flotilla raid -- but not in the Washington Post

On Sunday, Jan. 23, an Israeli blue-ribbon commission rendered its verdict on a battle aboard a Gaza blockade-running vessel that left nine Turkish activists dead.  The key issue was who initiated the violence that led to these fatalities -- the Israeli commandos who landed by helicopter and down ropes to the deck of the vessel, or Turkish passengers armed with an array of weapons.

The commission's verdict was clear-cut.  It was the Turkish provocateurs who started the fight by violently assaulting the commandos with iron bars, axes, clubs, slingshots, knives and other metal objects.  The commandos "acted professionally in the face of extensive and unanticipated  violence," the commission. concluded.  Its verdict was not merely that the commandos generally acted in accord with international law, but more importantly, that they first ran into a well-organized ambush as they scampered down from their helicopter and responded "proportionately."   The ambush, planned and executed by the Turkish activists before the commandos fired, thus becomes the central rationale for the vindication of the commandos' conduct. 

But you would hardly know it reading the Washington Post's account of the commission's report, which uses multiple spins, evasions and distortions to befog the main finding -- that the commandos acted entirely in self-defense.  ("Israeli inquiry says navy obeyed law in deadly flotilla raid -- Turkey 'appalled' by findings on incident that left 9 Turks dead" by Janine Zacharia, Jan. 24, page A7)

Here's how Zacharia beats about the bush to keep from readers that the Turks were to blame for the entire incident.

Her first paragraph mentions only a "deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla."  If anything, this suggests Israel went on the offensive with a "deadly raid" on the flotilla.

The second paragraph is not much better.  It cites the commission as declaring that the Israeli interception and capture of the vessels was in conformity with international law, but leaves hanging the key question of who attacked first. 

The fourth paragraph reports that nine Turks, including one Turkish-American teenager, "were killed in violent clashes with Israeli naval commandos as the commandos boarded the largest ship."  But who started those clashes?  Zacharia won't say.

After that, Zacharia switches to Ankara where the Turkish government rejects the Israel report as having "no value or credibility."

It is not until the 13th paragraph in her 15-paragraph article that Zacharia finally lets the cat out of the bag and reports the key conclusion of the commission -- that the Turkish activists aboard the vessels -- armed to the gills -- organized themselves into groups "as the Israeli commandos prepared to board and then violently assaulted the commandos.  The commission also said the "activists used firearms" and "overall the IDF personnel acted professionally in the face of extensive and unanticipated violence."

By contrast, the New York Times, in its version, let readers in on the answer to the who-attacked-first-question high up in its second paragraph.

But, with Zacharia's spin machine in full throttle, it gets even worse.

In her 11th paragraph -- before even reporting the heart and guts of the Israeli inquiry report -- Zacharia tries mightily to discredit it by reviving a report last September from the UN Human Rights Commission blaming Israel.  "The Israeli commission's findings," she writes, contradict those of the United Nations Human Rights Commission's international fact-finding mission, which concluded that Israel's interception of the Mavi Marama was 'clearly unlawful.'  That panel's report found that the Israeli military had acted with 'brutality' that 'constituted grave violations of human rights law and international law.'''

No mention, of course, that this same UN "human rights" agency has totally discredited itself by targeting Israel more than any other country in the world and is dominated by serial human-rights violators like China, Cuba, Libya, Russia and Saudi Arabia."

At the Washington Post, any stick to flog Israel will do -- even by trotting out a "finding" from a UN group with no credibility whatsoever and giving that "finding" precedence over the key conclusion of an Israeli commission that labored for many months, interviewed scores of witnesses, including Arabs aboard the Marmara, and is composed of eminent personalities with a long track record of objective scholarship and judicious pursuit of the truth.  Plus, of course, there was ample video footage to support the commission's findings.

At the end of her article, Zacharia acknowledges that the Israeli commission included two international observers, but stresses that they were "non-voting" members who merely found that the commission acted in "independent" fashion.  In fact, there's far more about these two observers, who remain unidentified in Zacharia's piece.  They are Lord David Trimble, a Nobel Peace Laureate instrumental in steering Northern Ireland away from decades of sectarian conflict, and Kenneth Watkin, a retired brigadier general and former judge advocate general of the Canadian forces.

In a joint statement, they emphasized that they took an active part in all commission meetings, hearings and deliberations.  They showered fulsome praise on the commission's thoroughness and objectivity under its chairman, retired Israeli Supreme Court justice, Jacob Turkel. Their comments more than trump expected denials from the Turkish side and the concocted "findings" of the UN Human Rights Commission, which get greater prominence in Zacharia's article than the far more relevant insiders' testimony of David Trimble and Kenneth Watkin.

But if you're out to do a hatchet job, this will be your modus operandi.
On Sunday, Jan. 23, an Israeli blue-ribbon commission rendered its verdict on a battle aboard a Gaza blockade-running vessel that left nine Turkish activists dead.  The key issue was who initiated the violence that led to these fatalities -- the Israeli commandos who landed by helicopter and down ropes to the deck of the vessel, or Turkish passengers armed with an array of weapons.

The commission's verdict was clear-cut.  It was the Turkish provocateurs who started the fight by violently assaulting the commandos with iron bars, axes, clubs, slingshots, knives and other metal objects.  The commandos "acted professionally in the face of extensive and unanticipated  violence," the commission. concluded.  Its verdict was not merely that the commandos generally acted in accord with international law, but more importantly, that they first ran into a well-organized ambush as they scampered down from their helicopter and responded "proportionately."   The ambush, planned and executed by the Turkish activists before the commandos fired, thus becomes the central rationale for the vindication of the commandos' conduct. 

But you would hardly know it reading the Washington Post's account of the commission's report, which uses multiple spins, evasions and distortions to befog the main finding -- that the commandos acted entirely in self-defense.  ("Israeli inquiry says navy obeyed law in deadly flotilla raid -- Turkey 'appalled' by findings on incident that left 9 Turks dead" by Janine Zacharia, Jan. 24, page A7)

Here's how Zacharia beats about the bush to keep from readers that the Turks were to blame for the entire incident.

Her first paragraph mentions only a "deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla."  If anything, this suggests Israel went on the offensive with a "deadly raid" on the flotilla.

The second paragraph is not much better.  It cites the commission as declaring that the Israeli interception and capture of the vessels was in conformity with international law, but leaves hanging the key question of who attacked first. 

The fourth paragraph reports that nine Turks, including one Turkish-American teenager, "were killed in violent clashes with Israeli naval commandos as the commandos boarded the largest ship."  But who started those clashes?  Zacharia won't say.

After that, Zacharia switches to Ankara where the Turkish government rejects the Israel report as having "no value or credibility."

It is not until the 13th paragraph in her 15-paragraph article that Zacharia finally lets the cat out of the bag and reports the key conclusion of the commission -- that the Turkish activists aboard the vessels -- armed to the gills -- organized themselves into groups "as the Israeli commandos prepared to board and then violently assaulted the commandos.  The commission also said the "activists used firearms" and "overall the IDF personnel acted professionally in the face of extensive and unanticipated violence."

By contrast, the New York Times, in its version, let readers in on the answer to the who-attacked-first-question high up in its second paragraph.

But, with Zacharia's spin machine in full throttle, it gets even worse.

In her 11th paragraph -- before even reporting the heart and guts of the Israeli inquiry report -- Zacharia tries mightily to discredit it by reviving a report last September from the UN Human Rights Commission blaming Israel.  "The Israeli commission's findings," she writes, contradict those of the United Nations Human Rights Commission's international fact-finding mission, which concluded that Israel's interception of the Mavi Marama was 'clearly unlawful.'  That panel's report found that the Israeli military had acted with 'brutality' that 'constituted grave violations of human rights law and international law.'''

No mention, of course, that this same UN "human rights" agency has totally discredited itself by targeting Israel more than any other country in the world and is dominated by serial human-rights violators like China, Cuba, Libya, Russia and Saudi Arabia."

At the Washington Post, any stick to flog Israel will do -- even by trotting out a "finding" from a UN group with no credibility whatsoever and giving that "finding" precedence over the key conclusion of an Israeli commission that labored for many months, interviewed scores of witnesses, including Arabs aboard the Marmara, and is composed of eminent personalities with a long track record of objective scholarship and judicious pursuit of the truth.  Plus, of course, there was ample video footage to support the commission's findings.

At the end of her article, Zacharia acknowledges that the Israeli commission included two international observers, but stresses that they were "non-voting" members who merely found that the commission acted in "independent" fashion.  In fact, there's far more about these two observers, who remain unidentified in Zacharia's piece.  They are Lord David Trimble, a Nobel Peace Laureate instrumental in steering Northern Ireland away from decades of sectarian conflict, and Kenneth Watkin, a retired brigadier general and former judge advocate general of the Canadian forces.

In a joint statement, they emphasized that they took an active part in all commission meetings, hearings and deliberations.  They showered fulsome praise on the commission's thoroughness and objectivity under its chairman, retired Israeli Supreme Court justice, Jacob Turkel. Their comments more than trump expected denials from the Turkish side and the concocted "findings" of the UN Human Rights Commission, which get greater prominence in Zacharia's article than the far more relevant insiders' testimony of David Trimble and Kenneth Watkin.

But if you're out to do a hatchet job, this will be your modus operandi.

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