March 11, 2013

Correcting a Hasbarista

I got an email from Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi this morning via the Just Peace UK list:
Did anyone else read the feature in Guardian Weekend about the angst experienced
by a female IDF conscript after nearly but not being shot by a fellow soldier? I
feel the need to respond in some way, though I'm not sure how, other than to
make the unsubtle point that many Palestinians actually do get shot.

I've failed to find the piece online, though there is this in Corrections and
The first-person piece in today's Weekend magazine in which the author recalls her days as a teenage recruit conscripted into the Israeli army is by Shani Boianjiu, not Shani Bouijani as a subheading says (Young gun, 9 March, page 49, Weekend).
Here's the link to Corrections and Clarifications.  Like Naomi, I couldn't find the original article either but Frank Fisher helpfully pointed out that Mondoweiss covered Shani Boianjiu's hasbara efforts some time last year.  Here's Mondoweiss's Adam Horowitz:
Boianjiu’s story begins:
Lea, the officer, had stopped feeling her own body. She lay on top of an anti-sniper barricade, holding up a page from a newspaper, blocking the stars. She had to stretch out her arms to hold the wide page above her head.
“Oh,” she said.
“The Army didn’t do it,” Tomer said. He flicked his cigarette butt down onto the asphalt of Route 799. He was talking about Huda, the little Palestinian girl on the beach. The picture in the newspaper showed her screaming on red sand, amid the body parts of the seven people who had been her family.
“I know,” she said. “This is a manipulation.”
The world said that the Israeli Army had done it with artillery fire, but the Israeli Army knew that the family had been killed by a dormant shell that Palestinian militants had left by the sea.
“The little Palestinian girl on the beach” is a real person. Huda Ghaliya was in sixth grade when her family was killed on the beach in Gaza, and her photo was broadcast around the world. The New York Times reported at the time:
Eleven-year-old Huda unwittingly became a symbol of Palestinian pain and loss during an afternoon picnic with her family on a hot day when a cameraman captured her shrieking “Father, Father, Father!” as she hovered over the bloody bodies of 13 dead or wounded members of her family, hit by what was apparently an errant Israeli artillery shell.
Exhaustive investigative work by Human Rights Watch established beyond doubt that the family were indeed killed by an Israeli shell but Israel exonerated itself.  Horowitz again:
Finally, from “Gaza Beach Investigation Ignores Evidence” (6/20/06):
The Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF) investigation of the Gaza beach explosion that killed eight Palestinian civilians and wounded dozens is incomplete because it excludes important evidence, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch researchers met yesterday with Israeli Major-General Meir Kalifi, who led the internal IDF investigation, to discuss its findings. After the meeting, Human Rights Watch reiterated its call for an independent investigation into the deaths.
The meeting revealed that the IDF’s conclusion that it was not responsible for the deaths on the beach was based exclusively on information gathered by the IDF and excluded all evidence gathered by other sources.
Boianjiu uses this discredited Israeli investigation to ground her story where Palestinians cynically attempt to garner sympathy through staged encounters with the Israeli military. Boianjiu’s story is fiction, but the context is pure hasbara.

He concludes the Mondoweiss piece with this twitter exchange:

Ironically, Boianjiu responded to our earlier post over Twitter, chiding us that we didn’t understand the difference between fiction and non-fiction:
Boianjiu’s narration of the deaths in Gaza is about as truthful as Harry Potter, but unlike that bespectacled wizard, her fictions are in the service of obfuscating a very real tragedy and an ongoing oppression.

So unless Shani Boianjiu has reformed in the last 8 or 9 months I think it's safe to assume that whatever appeared in last weekend's Guardian Weekend section was just another hasbara effort.


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