An incendiary and manipulative horror show?
A new film is seen to be pulling heartstrings to incite hatred of Israel
An anti-Israel “documentary” has been garnering rave reviews. Eleven Days in May focuses on Arab children in Gaza who were killed during the conflict a year ago, when Israel bombed Hamas targets in response to the rockets it was firing at Israel from Gaza with the intention of killing as many Israeli civilians as possible.
That Israeli military campaign, which I wrote about here, here, here and here, was grossly misrepresented by British and other western media. These claimed that the Israel Defence Forces had killed a huge number of civilians, a high proportion of whom were children.
This was the reverse of the truth. For the fact was that the 11-day Israeli bombardment of Gaza, deploying a volume of munitions so large that in the hands of any other army it would have left an enormous toll of dead civilians, killed hardly any civilians at all. I wrote last July:
With two million civilians — 60 percent of whom are children — packed into densely occupied Gaza, and given the Hamas strategy of using them as cannon fodder for air attacks, any Israeli airstrike would be expected inadvertently to kill thousands.
The Hamas-controlled Gaza health ministry says in fact that 256 Gazans were killed.
According to Israel’s Meir Amit Terrorism and Information Centre, which puts the figure at 234, nearly half of those were Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad combatants whom it has identified by name. Of the 95 of those killed who had no terrorist affiliation, 52 were children and 38 were women.
By international standards, this roughly one-to-one ratio of civilian to combatant deaths is amazing. In Afghanistan, Iraq or other theatres of war, British, American and other armies’ airstrikes usually achieve a ratio of about three civilians killed for every one combatant.
Moreover, a number of those Gazan deaths were caused by the Palestinians’ own rockets. Some 4,360 of these were fired at Israel, all aimed at killing civilians.
The Meir Amit centre says 68o of them fell inside Gaza killing at least 21 people; ten men, two women and nine children. In an analysis for Bar Ilan university’s Begin-Sadat Centre, Alex Safian has estimated that 91 Gazans were killed by these Palestinian rockets, some 36 per cent of the claimed Gazan death toll.
So the Israeli strikes were carried out with near-pinpoint accuracy that no other state’s armed forces could match. By any normal standards, this would itself be a story.
Yet the British media, which repeatedly pumped out the incendiary lie that the Israelis were mainly killing Palestinian civilians, mostly children, have ignored it. The lie remains uncorrected. The enormity of it — the way it reversed what actually happened and the implications of that reversal — is staggering.
Now a movie has been made which, ignoring the evidence, apparently builds on that murderous lie. Eleven Days in May, co-directed by Gaza-based film-maker Mohammed Sawwaf* and Michael Winterbottom and narrated by Kate Winslet, has been hailed by the same corrupted media as some kind of masterpiece. Here’s the Guardian:
This film sets out to memorialise the Palestinian children who were killed There are heart-wrenching interviews with the families, with translations narrated by Kate Winslet, and surviving family members are asked to pose for a sombre “portrait” tableau, from which some adults break away, their faces in their hands, unable to control their tears.
In the Telegraph, Tim Roey actually thought that a “huge virtue” of the film was that it avoided any “striving for editorial balance”. He wrote:
Assembling a memorial to the dead is all this film is doing, and everything it needs to do. We’re not embroiled in disputing anything: in terms of what’s strictly on screen, there’s nothing to dispute.
“Nothing to dispute”? Really??
Jonathan Hoffman, the tireless fighter against antisemitism, watched the film and wrote this on his blog:
It is a terrorist propaganda film which incites hatred against Israel and its supporters. It is mendacious, completely devoid of context and emotionally manipulative and exploitative (it shows dead children including horrifically injured faces – hence the ‘18’ rating)...
There is substantial evidence that education in Gaza incites children to hate Israel and to want to become terrorists. To die as a suicide bomber (‘shahid’) is considered a great honour. None of this comes out in the film, neither in the portraits of the casualties nor in the eulogies given by their families. They all wanted to become politicians, doctors, lawyers or journalists!
The film begins by blaming Israel for the start of the hostilities in May 2021. Israel is blamed for ‘evictions from the Al Aqsa Mosque’; for firing hand grenades in the Mosque in response to the mere ‘throwing of water bottles’; for threatening evictions from Sheikh Jarrah.
The truth is that Israeli security forces entered the Mosque to pursue terrorists who had been throwing rocks at Jews in the Old City. And that the Court ruled that Arab families were living illegally in Jewish-owned homes in Sheikh Jarrah. See my previous blogs, here, here and here.
According to the film seven rockets were fired into Israel before Operation Guardian of the Walls began. The film fails to tell you that they were fired at Jerusalem – the first such attack. And the film ignores the thousands of rockets that were fired for months before the Operation began. And ignores the 4360 fired DURING Operation Guardian of the Walls – including Tel Aviv. Hundreds were fired during the first night (10 May) of the Operation.
The film fails to inform the audience that Israel always issues a warning before any airstrike on Gaza (though the alert viewer might infer this from a single comment (regarding strike on 13 May) that ‘there was no warning’). Also that when numerous civilians are present around a military target, a strike is aborted. Also that Israel achieves a 1:1 ratio of civilian to military casualties- a record low for asymmetric warfare.
Most people who see the film will assume that Israel is to blame for all the deaths. But we know that nine children were killed by the 680 terrorist rockets that fell inside the Gaza Strip. We also know that Hamas’ military positions were located within the civilian population. Yahya al-Sinwar, the head of the Hamas political bureau in the Gaza Strip, admitted as much (al-Jazeera, 5 June 2021)…
Specific important and deliberate omissions about the child casualties: Mohammad Saber Ibrahim Suleiman (age 15 or 16) died on 10 May in an IDF airstrike east of Jabalia. He was a Hamas member. A video shows him wearing the Hamas military wing’s uniform during weapons training. In other photos he is seen holding a rifle (@DigFind_ Twitter account, June 1, 2021).Despite his youth, he was apparently an operative in the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades.
The four al-Masri children (Rahaf 10, Yazan 2, Marwan 6, Ibrahim 11) were killed at Beit Hanoun by terrorist rockets that fell short – not by the IDF. The same applies to Hussein Muneer Hussein Hamad, age 11, and to Ibrahim Hassanian age 16.
On 11 May Lina Iyad Fathi Sharir, age 15, died with her parents. Her sister Mana Iyad Fathi Sharir, age 2, was also hit and died on 18 May. The film fails to reveal that they were hit in a strike at their father Iyad Fathi Feyeq Sharir – the Commander of Hamas’s anti-tank units in Gaza.
The film tells us that on 12 May Bashar Ahmad Samour, age 17, ‘was shot alone while going to turn off water’. We see his dead body; he died near the fence in the Khan Younis region. But we are not told that he was a Fatah operative.
On 13 May Khaled Imad Khaled Qanou, aged 17 died. His mother talks about him and his father is shown in tears. But we are not told that the Mujahedeen Brigades, the military wing of the Mujahedeen Movement in the Gaza Strip, issued a mourning notice for him, saying he was 20 years old and an operative in their ranks. (Telegram channel of the Mujahedeen Brigades, May 13, 2021)
On 13 May Ibrahim Mohammad Ibrahim al-Rantisi, age 6 or 7 months, died. His brother is shown eulogising him. But we are not told that Ra’ed Ibrahim Khamis Azara al-Rantisi (his father? Brother?) against whom the strike was aimed in the Al-Junya neighbourhood of Rafah was according to social media an operative in Hamas’ military wing (Twitter account of Abu Obeidaal-Filistini, May 14, 2021). The Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades website called him a ‘Hamas shaheed’ (Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades website).
On 14 May the film informs us that three children from the al-Attar family died: Amira age 6, Islam age 8 and Mohammad Zain age 9 months. We see a sister eulogising and one of the dead children’s faces being touched. We are not told that they died on the street connecting the Al-Salatin and Al-Atatra neighbourhoods in Beit Lahia which was hit in an airstrike against Hamas tunnels – the tunnels used to enter Israel to murder and to hide armaments destined for use to kill Israelis. On 15 May four children of the Hatab family died: Yamen (5), Bilal (9), Yousef (10 or 11) and Miriam (7). They died in the Al-Shati refugee camp. We are not told that they were the children of Hamas operative Alaa Abu Hatab. There are shots of children playing in the sea close to the shore.
Also on 15 May the film tells us that Osama (?Huseina) al-Hadidi, age 4, died and that she had a ‘brain condition’. We are told she ‘loved tomatoes.’ Three other children of the al-Hadidi family also died: Abdurrahman (7 or 8), Suheib (12) and Yahya (10). But we are NOT told that they also died in the strike against Hamas operative Alaa Abu Hatab (see above)...
On 19 May the film describes the death of Nagham Iyad Abdulfattah Salha, aged 2 and Nina Al Adalyiya age 11. Kate Winslet says “A plane fired a missile at her”. Obviously a lie. Israel does not target innocent children! How can an actress lie like this? Do they not question the script that is given to them? Do they not do some due diligence?
Now look at what Sawwaf and Winterbottom told al Jazeera. Said Sawwaf:
With Israel, everyone closes their ears and eyes to the victims. Israel is never punished or deterred by the international community, and so continues to launch war after war on this poor and besieged strip.
Said Winterbottom piously:
As a parent, the worst thing you can imagine is losing a child. For people in Gaza, it’s happened before and it’s happening again. That feeling as a parent – can you protect your children, can you look after them? That seemed like it would be something good to focus on. We hope that makes people realise bombing is not a solution to the problem. It would be great to think that the more people feel that, the less likely it is to continue.
But the actual problem — the reason for this unending conflict — is that the Palestinian Arabs ceaselessly attempt to murder Israeli civilians. This is the only reason Israel ever launches bombing raids against their military infrastructure.
Since March 22, 19 Israelis —including an Israeli Arab police officer — have been murdered by Palestinian Arabs. The horrific axe attack last week in which three Israelis were murdered in Elad, near Tel Aviv, left 16 children fatherless.
Yet Winterbottom’s compassionate heart strangely fails to bleed over these Israeli victims of unprovoked Palestinian Arab terror. He makes no “unflinching”, “heart-wrenching,” “deeply personal” documentary aimed at solving that problem by prompting public “grief and anger” over those Israelis who have been murdered in the furtherance of a fanatical and genocidal cause. He makes a film instead to prompt anger at the intended victims of that cause because they dare defend themselves against it; and to prompt grief over those whose fate is cynically decontextualised in order to sanitise it.
“With Israel, everyone closes their ears and eyes to the victims”, said Sawwaf. Very true — but not in the way he meant it. The world closes its ears and eyes to the Israeli victims of those whom Sawwaf champions.
Yes, those Gazan children were also victims — but victims above all of Hamas and the Palestinian Arab leadership. They indoctrinate their children in hysterical and murderous lies about Israel and the Jews, recruit them into terrorism and use them as human shields. Gaza’s children are the victims of systemic Palestinian Arab child abuse. If that wasn’t the case, those children who died in Gaza last year would still be alive.
In a rare media display of moral integrity, The Times of London (for which I myself write) recoiled from this movie. Kevin Maher wrote:
It’s an 18-certificate horror show, but culled from real life. It’s incendiary material and furiously anti-Israel. Winslet’s narration begins with, “Israel loaded up its fighter jets and the bombardment began”.
There is no context and no nuance. Just a suggestion that “Israel” (whoever that is?) is a homicidal maniac. Which, given global events right now, doesn’t seem very constructive.
Something of an understatement, surely. Incitement to hatred and violence would seem to be nearer the mark.
*Update: The Jewish Chronicle reports today that Sawwaf is a Hamas supporter who was presented with an award by Hamas leaders for his work “countering the Zionist narrative”. You can read David Rose’s story here.
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