It’s all over the media. Terrorists from Hamas breached the Gaza border and invaded Israel in a murderous rampage. They decapitated some 40 babies at a kibbutz. Its soldiers are raping Jewish women. They killed 260 young people at a concert, and there’s more atrocities to come.
The media took their cue from President Joe Biden who lied that he “saw” “confirmed pictures of terrorists beheading children,” and described the Palestinian resistance as committing rape and other “acts of sheer evil.”
These horror stories have dominated the front pages of papers in the United States and Europe and have been the top of the broadcast news for days. In loud and outraged voices, in huge boldface type, the establishment media has carried the same atrocity stories, even using the exact same words. The same reports have been picked up and amplified by social media.
It’s all certainly incredibly gruesome and frightening. Only these stories are blatantly false or unverified.
This is war propaganda designed to confuse, soften or win over public opinion for imperialist invasion. It is crafted to justify the Western-backed Israeli government’s massive bombardment of Gaza, allegedly to “destroy Hamas,” at its base, but really to kill, maim and starve the two million Palestinian civilians there. As Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said, the goal of the Israeli offensive is the “elimination” of Gaza. Some 1,000 Palestinian children have been killed by this bombing to date.
No decapitated babies
The Electronic Intifada and Mondoweiss, on-line news services which seek to cover the Middle East from the point of view of the people who live there, trace the story of Palestinian fighters decapitating 40 babies at the Kfar Aza Kibbutz to an article and video by Bel Trew, a reporter for the British newspaper The Independent.
Trew, who was at Kfar Aza on October 10, wrote an article quoting Israeli Army Major David Ben Zion claiming that women and children in that compound were beheaded, and that “when Hamas came here they cut the heads of women, they cut the heads of children.”
She did not question whether reservist Ben Zion, who was not the officer in charge, was a credible source. He is in fact a leader of the arch-racist West Bank settler movement, and has called on settlers to wipe out the Palestinian village of Harawa, which was attacked and burned several times.
But she did write: “The Independent did not see evidence of his claims,” and says in the video accompanying her article that the bodies she saw lying around Kfar Aza were “the dead bodies of militant soldiers.” The Independent, however, distorted and sensationalized these findings in its headline for this article:
Two days later, when pressed, the Israeli military said it could not confirm stories of decapitation. But the corporate press around the world was already off and running with that headline from the Independent.
Baby atrocities manufactured to justify 1990 Gulf War
Manufacturing atrocities committed against babies has been used before to justify imperialist intervention, paving the way for the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 1991. Hysterical media stories circulated worldwide at that time that Iraqi soldiers had entered Kuwaiti hospitals, taking Kuwaiti babies out of incubators and throwing them on the floor to perish. This was greeted with much shock and horror.
When the hysteria subsided, however, the source of that story, which had been repeated hundreds of times as fact, was revealed to be the 15-year-old daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States, who was not in Kuwait at the time of the alleged incident. Iraq suffered greatly from the U.S. invasion and an additional 500,000 Iraqi children died as a result of the U.S. imposed sanctions that followed.
Public opinion was softened for another murderous war — the Pentagon’s second invasion of Iraq in 2003— based on lies that Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction.” These were lies that then-Senator Joe Biden had personally pushed for years.
Rape claims ‘unsubstantiated’
Widespread media allegations of rape by Palestinian resistance fighters was stated as fact by Israeli head of state Benjamin Netanyahu and repeated by Biden and Senator Ted Cruz, among others. These have also turned out to be fabrications. The Los Angeles Times on Oct. 9 quietly retracted earlier of statements of rape as “unsubstantiated.”
Allegations of mass rape in Libya and Syria were also false and used to justify Western bombings of those countries. These bombings destroyed Libya as a country. In Syria, hunger and homelessness prevail today as the U.S. occupies a third of that country, while Israel regularly bombs those areas still controlled by Damascus.
Mass murder at a rave?
Another atrocity story making it way around the world is that Palestinian fighters deliberately massacred 260 or more Jewish youth at the Tribe of Nova festival, a rave taking place three miles from the Gaza border when the Palestinian fighters began their surprise offensive. The New York Times headlined this as “Slaughter at a Festival of Peace and Love.”
In war, civilians are certainly killed. There is every reason to be very skeptical, however, of the media reports that claim to present “proof” that “Hamas human animals” mowed down hundreds of innocent Jewish youth in a “horrific massacre.”
As with the Independent’s baby decapitation story, blaring media headlines over videos claiming to show a “massacre” at the rave and advising “caution in viewing” and “upsetting content,” appear to be overblown. A review of the videos most often circulated do not show a mass killing or a pileup of hundreds of bodies.
For example the headline of a New York Post online article reads:
Horrifying images reveal Hamas massacre at rave, where Israeli officers acted as human shields to protect civilians.
Yet, the video which the Post claims shows a massacre, shows people dancing, then running and appearing frightened.
A photo in the same article in the Post bears the caption: “Israeli soldiers protecting civilians with their bodies.” It is actually a photo of uniformed snipers on a rooftop, and is a stock image credited to AFP via Getty Images.
Similarly, a CNN video claiming to show “carnage” shows people running, and possibly two bodies on the ground. Another video that CNN claims shows “Palestinians shooting concert goers at point blank range and confiscating their goods” shows nothing of the kind.
Rave survivor says Isreali soldiers kill civilians in crossfire
Meanwhile, there is an eyewitness account that in at least one incident, Israeli soldiers killed their own civilians in crossfire.
Yasmin Porat, a survivor of the Nova rave, interviewed on the radio program Haboker Hazeh, said that Israeli forces fired indiscriminately on Palestinian fighters and the Israelis they were holding captive. “They eliminated everyone, including the hostages … There was very, very heavy crossfire,” she said, and even tank shelling.
It is also possible that killing hostages was a deliberate policy of the Israeli government. The Palestinian resistance has offered to negotiate with the Israeli government for release of Israeli civilians they hold, but that regime’s only answer has been more bombing. Resistance News Network reports that as of October 16, Israeli bombing killed 22 of the Israeli prisoners held in Gaza.
Israel has greenlighted killing Jewish hostages before. In 1972, desperate to bring attention to their plight then ignored by the world, Palestinians seized the Israeli athletic team hostage at the Munich Olympics. Their plan was the same as the Palestinian plan now — to exchange Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners. Then, as now, the Israeli government was not interested in such an exchange. It instructed police to open fire on all, and when the smoke cleared, claimed the Palestinians had gruesomely murdered the Israeli athletes.
The United States has done the same thing. In 1971, more than 2,000 Black, white and Latino prisoners rebelled at the Attica Correctional Facility in New York State over horrendous living conditions, demanding political rights. They took guards hostage to exchange for the meeting of their demands. Then New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller ordered troops to storm the prison, killing prisoners and hostages alike. To justify the carnage, the story was circulated that the prisoners had slit the throats of the guards.
Only an independent investigation can truly determine what happened at the rave concert, and it is unlikely that the United States or Israel will permit this.
Meanwhile, it’s important not to be pulled into the government and media hysteria, and to remember these things.
Dehumanizing the enemy by blaring atrocity stories is a standard tactic that the imperialists use when they plan a no-stops war. The U.S. government, which has no concerns for the poor and vulnerable here, suddenly claims to be the protector of the victimized and vulnerable abroad, and demonizes its targets as savage annihilators with no regard for human life.
The corporate media is owned by the Wall Street banks, corporations and oil companies that see Israel as its proxy in the Middle East. The fundamental job of this media is to secure these interests. When the media marches in lockstep, blaring stories of atrocities that the United States and its allies must fix, they are only doing their job. The public, however, must beware. An imperialist aggression is coming soon. U.S. tax dollars, instead of going to services here, will be used for yet another war that leaves working people dead and which lines the pockets of Wall Street.
There is never an equal sign between the actions of the oppressed and the actions of the oppressor.
The Israeli government is the oppressor. It is is using thirst, hunger and massive bombings in a war of extermination against the civilian population of Gaza, half of whom are children, while the United States hands it more bombs and cheers it on.
The Palestinian are the oppressed. Their resistance, supported by the entire Palestinian population, has no army, air force or navy, yet it fights heroically against one of the most heavily armed governments in the world. The Palestinians’ right to fight to end 75 years of occupation and oppression by any means necessary is coded into international and human rights law, and the law of humanity. Right now, more than ever, this heroic people needs the active and unconditional support of everyone.