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The Right's latest invention: 'Gazans celebrated Boston bombings'

The birth and growth of an utterly baseless, extremely damaging claim.

If you Google “Gazans celebrate Boston Marathon bombings” or variations of that entry, you will have your reading cut out for you. Such a scene was reported by Pamela Gellar, possibly America’s best-known Muslim-basher, on her website Atlas Shrugs. The story was headlined “DANCING IN THE STREETS OF GAZA OVER BOSTON BOMBINGS,” and carried the intro, “End US aid to these savages. Now.”

Such a spectacle in Gaza was also mentioned in a column by Ruthie Blum in the English-language website of Sheldon Adelson’s Israel Hayom, this country’s most widely-circulated newspaper:

This is the same Hamas that runs Gaza, the terrorist enclave that celebrated last week’s bombings in Boston by cheering, dancing in the streets and handing out cake and candy to passersby. It was like 9/11 all over again, and the residents of Gaza were rejoicing.

Another of America’s most prominent Islamophobes, David Horowitz, carried the story on his Frontpagemag.com in a column by Ari Lieberman:

On April 16, Palestinians in Gaza cheered. They danced in the streets and handed out candy and sweets to motorists and pedestrians alike. They were not however celebrating the inauguration of a new school or the completion of a hospital. Instead, they were celebrating death. On April 16, Palestinians of Gaza celebrated the Boston marathon atrocity. While our first responders were picking up severed limbs and tending to the wounded, Palestinians reveled in Boston’s misery.

The spectacle of Gazans dancing in the street and handing out sweets after the Boston Marathon bombings was reported as well in the website of The Jewish Press, an Orthodox paper that bills itself as “America’s largest independent Jewish weekly.”

Likewise, the tale was repeated on all sorts of far-right pro-Israel/anti-Muslim blogs, on YouTube, on Twitter. By now, it is no doubt an article of faith among this crowd that Gaza was jubilant over the massacre in Boston.

Where did they get this idea? From going through the links posted, the origin was a story written on the day of the bombing by Israel News Agency, a right-wing pro-Israel website run by Joel Leyden, a long-time New York Jewish immigrant to Israel who describes himself on the site as a “journalist, media consultant, social media and SEO [search engine optimization] pioneer working with both the Israel Defense Forces and the US Army in Haiti.”

Datelined Jerusalem, the story is headlined “Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah Celebrate Boston Terror Attack.” It shows a photo of a boy handing out pastries to a smiling man in a car. The photographer isn’t identified, and the caption is somewhat less than precise and verifiable, though it does at least acknowledge that the photo was NOT taken after the Marathon bombing. It reads: “The above photo was taken after a recent terror attack.”

Everything the story has to say about the reaction in Gaza is contained in the opening sentence, which leads a long story about the bombings:

Shortly after terror bombs exploded and murdered at least three people at the Boston Marathon, members of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah were reported to be dancing in the streets of Gaza, handing out candies to passerbys.

The story says the celebrations “were reported.” By whom? It doesn’t say. No news agency with journalists in Gaza reported such sights and sounds, and since Israelis aren’t allowed into the Strip, I was interested to know where Leyden (whom I met 25 years ago, and who is a Facebook friend of mine) got this information. I asked him on FB, and he wrote back that he got it from “security sources.” Whatever.

So until further notice, it appears that the words “were reported” constitute the complete body of evidence that Palestinians in Gaza celebrated the Boston Marathon bombing, as first “reported” by Israel News Agency and circulated as fact by Pamela Gellar, Israel Hayom, David Horowitz’s website and many, many other pro-Israel/anti-Muslim mass media.

Not that it will matter, though; the great crowds of people who want to believe this story will keep on repeating it.

NOTE: This post has been corrected to show that Israel News Agency is run by Joel Leyden and not by the pro-settler radio station Arutz Sheva (whose English-language website Israel National News, not surprisingly, also picked up Israel News Agency’s “scoop”).

 

 

 

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  • COMMENTS

    1. Giora Me'ir

      You mean right-wing, anti-Palestinian, Muslim haters will lie to advance their agenda? I’m shocked.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Charles-Jerusalem

      To Larry,
      So, at the end, they did danced or not ?
      It does not come out easily in your article.
      the Hamas and many palestinians danced in the streets following 9/11. Everybody was chocked.

      Reply to Comment
      • aristeides

        Odds are, they’re just repeating the same story, the same photos.

        Reply to Comment
    3. XYZ

      Larry-
      Your 972 colleague Haggai Matar recently wrote about a Nakba commemoraton in which violence almost broke between different groups of Palestinians, one side of which supports Assad and the other Assad’s opponents in Syria. Now, if such great emotions exist supporting one side or another in a war in which Arab/Muslims are killing other brother Arab/Muslims who, as we are always being told, love one another, then would it surprise you to see that there would be good feeling among Palestinians seeing the hated American enemy that supports the hated Zionists get hit. After all you do know about all the celebrations that took place and were filmed after 9/11 (the PA police tried to confiscate the pictures) and the suicide bombings in Israel.

      I find it interesting how you and so many “progressives” have come to completely identify with the Palestinians to the point of granting sainthood to them, meaning you view them as being incapable of any sort of negative behavior.

      Reply to Comment
      • Danny

        This progressive identifies with those who struggle against INJUSTICE, no matter who they are. That’s something you “regressives” will unfortunately never understand.

        Reply to Comment
        • XYZ

          What you say is unture. For example, the “progressive” HADASH party supports Assad’s killing of his opponents and doesn’t care a bit about all the civilians being killed in the crossfire. I note that almost none of the “progressives” who are always pontificating about Israel have nothing to say about what is going on in Syria, or other troublespots for that matter. I asked a Jewish “progressive” who supports BDS against Israel why he doesn’t support BDS against those who are supporting the killing on both sides in Syria (Russia, China, Iran on Assad’s side; Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States on the other side) and demand BDS against these countries until they stop arming EITHER side. He only replied that it wasn’t any of his business. Thus, concern about massive human rights violations and “injustice” are not what motivates these people…simply antaganozims to Israel, or the US or to “globalist capitalism” or whatever other favorite bogey-men the “progressives” happen to hate at the moment.

          Reply to Comment
          • Danny

            There’s killing going on everywhere on this globe; unfortunately, war seems to be a part of the human condition. The difference between Syria and Israel is that I am Israeli, and as such, care more about what happens in my country than someone else’s country. I’m sure you can understand that.

            Reply to Comment
          • Michael W.

            You just said that you don’t care about “who they are”. And then you state that you care less if they are Syrian.

            Reply to Comment
          • Arieh

            Michael
            Danny is a “progressive” logic means nothing to him. If it suits him, he will say the sun rises from the west one minute. The next minute he will say it rises from the north.

            Facts and logic mean nothing to them.

            Reply to Comment
          • XYZ

            No, I can’t understand that. “Progressives” claim to be for universal human rights. You are now being rather parochial and ethnocentric. I am not telling you to ignore what is going on here, but the UN says 80,000 have been killed in 2 years in Syria. That is a MASSIVE violation of human rights, so I would expect you, HADASH and all the other “progressives” to be picketing outside the Russian and Chinese embassies, demadning BDS against them until they stop supporting and supplying Assad’s killing machine and that HADASH and other Arabs demand that the Saudis and the Gulf States stop supplying the killers on the other side. That is the ONLY think I could understand from the so-called “progressives”.

            Reply to Comment
      • “Now, if such great emotions exist supporting one side or another in a war in which Arab/Muslims are killing other brother Arab/Muslims who, as we are always being told, love one another…”

        XYZ, you are creating a strawman here. Ideas of brotherly love and unity often do feature in the rhetoric of religious and nationalist ideologies, but that has never stopped sectarianism from emerging. It doesn’t logically follow that intra-community hostility is automatically less severe than hostility to people outside that community – in fact, the intra-community hostility could very well be worse, as the issues may feel closer to the bone. You are making extrapolations that don’t fit, and the basic premise is shaky to start with. I for one am not ‘always being told’ that Arabs and Muslims love one another; in fact, I hear this idea most frequently from you – always in justification of your belief that they must cherish particular hatred for other people.

        We are all a little too easily satisfied by proof of hate, no matter how vague and dubious the evidence (i.e. an unsourced photo of a man with a plate of cakes) and we need to ask why this is.

        Reply to Comment
        • Morris

          Maybe you should watch this video of Egyptian Salafi Cleric Murgan Salem who suggests that the Boston Bombing was meant to deliver a message and that similar attacks can be expected in France http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JrLsz-AIuzY

          Reply to Comment
          • This is exactly what I meant when I said that people are a little too ready to find reason to hate. I could cherry-pick such videos in order to take part in the demonisation of a whole community (some members of which are already at risk for reprisals and hate crimes). I could look at Hebron graffiti saying ‘Arabs to the gas chambers’ and use that to vilify settlers. I choose not to. There is enough nastiness in the world without adding to it through my own unwillingness to approach people more kindly.

            Reply to Comment
          • Jack Morris

            Vicky, if you choose to ignore or dismiss the bleeding obvious then you are either a fool or very naive. You want to turn a blind eye to what is going on out there as if that will help solve the problems that exist. I do not subscribe to the Christian ethic to turn the other cheek in the face of the global threat posed by Islam.

            Reply to Comment
    4. tod

      Thank you Larry. Pamela Gellar and Ari Lieberman are so ignorant and full of hatred. It is not a matter of being right-wing or left-wing. It is a matter of dignity.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Bill Cunningham

      Kind of reminds you of the “Jenin Massacre”.

      Reply to Comment
    6. William Burns

      When have Gellar and Horowitz ever done anything about the misery of Gaza (which rather exceeds that of Boston) other than revel in it?

      Reply to Comment
      • XYZ

        What are you doing about the ongoing misery, the daily KILLING that is going on in Syria “which rather exceeds that of Gaza” other than ignore it?

        Reply to Comment
        • Philos

          Stop trolling the site! This article is about Gaza and not Syria so stop your goddamn trolling you goddamn troll! Specifically, a hasbara troll.

          Reply to Comment
          • XYZ

            Syria is the current elephant in the closet that shows what you “prorgressives” are really like. 80,000 dead in two years and you don’t want to talk about it…but you prefer to argue about whether a press report of Palestinians supposedly celebrating the terrorist attacks in Boston is true or not. No wonder you get so upset..the emperor has been shown to have no clothes.

            Reply to Comment
          • Philos

            They are too separate issues. It’s like Larry posting about glaciers melting and you complaining about us not discussing the destruction of the Amazon rain forest! This article is about Gaza, not Syria, there are other blogs elsewhere that deal with Syria. If you want to contribute to that debate then go there but obviously you don’t. You just want to sit there and troll this blog, its readers and get your cheap thrills. And if this is how you prove to yourself that “the emperor has no clothes” then you are a very, very, sad man indeed. No go do something constructive with your day, week, month, year or life.

            Reply to Comment
          • Leen

            I guess XYZ didn’t get the memo of the purpose of this website.

            +972 is an independent, blog-based web magazine. It was launched in August 2010, resulting from a merger of a number of popular English-language blogs dealing with life and politics in Israel and Palestine.

            Of course it will focus on palestine and Israel. If I want to read abotu Syria and contribute to the discussion, I naturally go to blogs about Syria. XYZ should take note.

            Reply to Comment
          • The XYZ is doing what all Islamophobic thugs do. When you introduce an idea that hints that Muslims might be human, he/she/it comes up with a totally unrelated Muslim who’s doing something bad, and accuses you of being “soft” because you’re not talking about that other Muslim who’s doing something bad. It’s essentially a developmentally disabled human being.

            Reply to Comment
          • XYZ

            Complete inversion of the situation. I am the one who is constantly asking why the “progressives” are not doing anything to help the vicitms in Syria and they keep saying they are “too busy”, or “I am an Israeli…it doesn’t interest me”, or as one said “I can’t tell the Syrians what to do” and yet you claim THEY are the ones who are “concerned about their humanity”? Your saying “let them die” is an expression of “progressive” concern for human rights? I never said not to worry about the Palestinians, but I do wonder why someone like Derfner worries about such a trivial issue like the on in this thread and ignores a daily massacre of innocent civilians? Don’t forget many of our “progressives” here voted for HADASH which openly supports Assad’s death machine.

            Reply to Comment
          • Shmuel

            “The XYZ is doing what all Islamophobic thugs do.”

            Or what + 972 and its faithful deciphles do to Jews and Israel.

            Reply to Comment
          • Oscar

            “You just want to sit there and troll this blog, its readers and get your cheap thrills”

            Yea, Philos, all he and the rest of us “trolls” are doing is getting cheap thrills spoiling YOUR cheap thrills of continuous Israel and Jew bashing.

            Get over it!

            Reply to Comment
        • sh

          We do it in Gaza, somebody else is doing it in Syria. Simple as that.

          PS, while we’re at it, to support Assad does not mean you support his massacres and to support revolution does not mean you support armed revolution. Oh, and to support Israel should not mean you condone its oppression and violence either. Only in your book is that a foregone conclusion.

          Reply to Comment
    7. Kolumn9

      These kinds of rumors fall on fertile ground since the scenes of Palestinians celebrating the events of 9/11 were shown on American television.

      They are probably untrue in this case and progressives can go back to accepting that people in Gaza only celebrate when terrorists kill Israeli civilians, which is obviously ok.

      Reply to Comment
    8. foresomenteneikona

      Good work, Larry…

      Reply to Comment
    9. andrew r

      From the Arutz Sheva article:

      “Shortly after terror bombs exploded and murdered over 12 people at the Boston Marathon, members of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah were reported to be dancing in the streets of Gaza, handing out candies to passerbys.”

      There are members of Hezbollah in Gaza? Anyway, no big surprise that mainstream Israeli media and its US-based adherents would conduct reporting along the lines of Goebbels and Julius Streicher.

      Reply to Comment
      • aristeides

        Inflating the number of dead victims by a factor of 4 is a great way to boost credibility.

        Reply to Comment
      • “There are members of Hezbollah in Gaza?”

        I smiled at that one as well. Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and – let’s bring out the big guns and use ALL the scarypeoplewords! – Hezbollah too!!

        Reply to Comment
      • Shmuel

        “Goebbels”

        Did I hear you mention Goebbels, Andrew? You are a practicing deciphle of his.

        Reply to Comment
    10. Sonja

      This is nonsense, racist advertising against palestinian… iN THE CONTRARY, Palestinian had their marathon and they were wearing the black ribbon for the Boston victims… Please stop spreading hatered it is not going to work…Enough with such hatered messages, everybody will pay for it.

      Reply to Comment
    11. I take it, Larry, that no major American news media has put forward a similar story?

      Reply to Comment
      • I mentioned it toward end of story: “No news agency with journalists in Gaza reported such sights and sounds…”

        Reply to Comment
          • Arieh

            “I mentioned it toward end of story:“No news agency with journalists in Gaza reported such sights and sounds …..”

            Yes Larry. Perhaps you could tell us how many journalists live in Gaza nowdays who could report on this event either way?

            And while you are at it, you might consider whether they would be willing to report in a way that the locals may not appreciate?

            Why do I bring that up? Oh no special reason except maybe because of what happened to Italian journalist Vitorio Arrigoni in April 2011. And to Allan Johnston in 2007.

            Reply to Comment
          • Every major int’l news agency has Palestinians in Gaza feeding them info – including, for instance, on the murder of Arregoni (who was not a journalist but a pro-Palestinian activist), kidnapping of Johnston, killing of rivals and collaborators religious tyranny and all sorts of other things that make Islamists in Gaza look terrible in the world’s eyes. There were reports from Gaza, WBank, EJlem, Lebanon and elsewhere about cheering after 9/11. But I’m sure you’re right – this time there probably were millions of Gazans cheering the Boston bombings and everybody saw it and no one reported it.

            Reply to Comment
    12. LaineyB

      Thank you for publishing this. When the story came to my attention I checked with reputable journalists I know in Gaza who denied any knowledge of such an event, pointing out as you did that there are no Israeli journalists in Gaza. The article is clearly a fabrication. If this article were published in my country I would be pursuing the author through the law for incitement to hatred, which is a crime.

      Reply to Comment
    13. Richard Lightbown

      This is a perennial piece of malicious propaganda wheeled out after any terrorist attack against anyone that Israel needs as a supporter. It was repeated last year in the House of Commons by Louise Mensch (sic) when it was again backed up by a photograph of a man offering sweets on a tray to two policeman. Surely a normal everyday event, in fact probably a normal transaction for a sweet seller on any day of the year regardless of how many people may have died a horrible death in the US or in Israel (or for that matter in Gaza).

      Leyden tells Larry that he got the lie from “security sources” which is probably the only truth in the whole vicious libel. It very likely is state propaganda intended to further the villa in the jungle concept of Israel. One thing is for sure we have not heard the last of this story. It will reappear again when there is another nasty terror attack against a suitable target.

      Reply to Comment
    14. Shmuel

      Yea I really find it difficult to believe that a people whose leader (Haniyeh) said this about Americans would celebrate Boston …

      “As I inspect the ruins of our infrastructure — the largess of donor nations and international efforts all turned to rubble once more by F-16s and American-made missiles — my thoughts again turn to the minds of Americans. What do they think of this?”

      Haniyeh said the above in the Washington Post in July 11, 2006. But no of course that does not mean that they would hate America enough to celebrate Boston?

      Not much. Nor would they do this …

      “eon Klinghoffer (September 24, 1916 – October 8, 1985) was a disabled American appliance manufacturer who was murdered and thrown overboard by Palestinian terrorists in the hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro in 1985.[1]“

      Reply to Comment
      • David T.

        Can our racism expert Shmuel enlighten us how diffcult it is to believe that ‘a people’ whose leader (Netanyahu) said this would celebrate 911 and Boston: “We are benefiting from one thing, and that is the attack on the Twin Towers and Pentagon, and the American struggle in Iraq.”

        Remeber the five of ‘them’ who were dancing and arrested while capturing 911?

        And what if ‘they’ do this:
        Disabled Gaza man killed by IDF during house demolition
        http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/disabled-gaza-man-killed-by-idf-during-house-demolition-1.128273

        So Shmuel, what can you tell us about ‘them’ from a racist viewpoint?

        Reply to Comment
        • Shmuel

          “So Shmuel, what can you tell us about ‘them’ from a racist viewpoint?”

          Seriously, David T. You have much greater experience than me as a racist. How do I know? Because it cries out to high heaven from every single post of yours!

          Reply to Comment
    15. Tzutzik

      Yes it is just us crazed Zionists, Right Wingers and Islamophobes who invent the hatred by Arabs of America.

      Yet wait a minute … How come Arabs themselves say so? Google it. Here is one example:

      http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=54458

      “Not only has the United States failed to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict, it has also built Israel up into the regional bully, and must therefore be judged complicit in its numerous assaults against its neighbours”

      Yet has anyone asks them? Why do they think it is America’s job to resolve the Arab Israeli conflict? What exactly do they expect? That after decades of Arab support for the Soviets, America will just turn on Israel because the Soviets faded away?

      And back to topic. Wouldn’t people who feel this way about America be capable of celebrating Boston? I don’t find it so hard to believe.

      Reply to Comment
    16. Arieh

      Sounds like a bit of censorship going on. Oh we’ll …

      Reply to Comment
    17. Arieh

      Yes, as you say Larry, they cheered about what happened in 9/11.

      So why is it so difficult to believe that they cheered again about what happened in Boston.

      What changed?

      Reply to Comment
      • I have a problem with making things up for the purpose of scoring political points – it’s called disinformation, or black propaganda. There have been ongoing scenes of Jews applauding Baruch Goldstein’s massacre, there were reams of happy Israeli talkbacks when Palestinians were killed on a bus returning from Mecca – I find it easy to believe that there are Palestinians cheering American deaths and Jews cheering Arab deaths – I just don’t think they should be invented. But it’s your right to disagree.

        Reply to Comment
        • Arieh

          Larry
          I don’t like it when either side invents things either. But neither you nor I know the real story about what happened in Gaza in response to Boston because neither you nor I were there.

          All I am saying to you is not to be so adamant that what some rightists claim is not true because it IS plausible. So if you don’t know, take a middle of the road approach and admit that you don’t know.

          But hey, it’s your call …

          Reply to Comment
          • And if it was being reported that Jews were cheering some atrocity against Arabs, and you found out it was an invention, would you take a neutral position because it was plausible?

            Reply to Comment
          • Arieh

            Are you sure that is what is happening here Larry?

            If you are then you are doing the right thing. But I don’t believe that you can possibly know for sure either way.

            All you are doing is you are disbelieving what has been reported because rightists do the reporting.
            And what they are reporting is not implausible at all since they DID cheer after 911. So in fact you could just as easily be wrong Larry …

            Reply to Comment
          • Do you really not see? The report of celebrations after the Boston bombing had NOTHING behind it, no evidence, no facts, no reportage, nothing, pure invention, that’s the problem here, and that’s what I’m calling attention to. There was plenty of evidence of celebrations after 9/11, so I believe it. Here there is nothing, and you’re not supposed to tell stories for political benefit based on nothing. Again, that’s called disinformation, black propaganda, and that’s bad. Do you not agree?

            Reply to Comment
    18. Vadim

      There are many lies, half truths and fabrications going on. Too many interests, too much money and too many dishonest people are involved. On all sides.

      I could point out several blatant lies made by our neighbours, I could point out several lies adopted and constantly repeated by the writers on this site. I would never though call them “leftist lies”, or “Arab inventions”, as they only belong to the dishonest people who spread them. It seems other people don’t have such problems with attributing something to the entire “right” or to all Zionists or Jews.

      Reply to Comment
      • Arieh

        Well said Vadim.

        Reply to Comment
    19. Arieh

      @Larry
      If you don’t even want to concede the possibility that the reports are correct, then we have to agree to disagree.

      In 2001 Hamas was not in full control of Gaza although its presence was felt. So celebrations of 9/11 were possible to report. Especially since so many Gazans chose to celebrate it at the time.

      Now, Hamas is in full control. And Hamas has a reputation of dealing very harshly with people who displease it, even foreign journalists.

      Moreover, if in fact celebrations were held this time too, as was reported by right wing Israelis, it is quite probable that this time they were much more low key with lower participation because SOME Gazans have become conscious of the bad publicity that they got from their behaviour after 9/11. But it does not mean that ALL of them learnt from it or care about it.

      Do you not concede that the above scenario is at least possible?

      Reply to Comment
      • Again, there are no “reports by right-wing Israelis,” there is one sentence made up by one right-wing Israeli and picked up all over. As for the rest, I’m sure there were lots of Gazans smiling over the Boston bombings and lots of Jews still smiling over the Syrian killings.

        Reply to Comment
        • Arieh

          “lots of Jews still smiling over the Syrian killings”

          Maybe some do more than smile, some just smile, some are sad for all the stupidity and violence generated not just by Israel but stupidity wherever it occurs.

          Pity + 972 is so obsessed just by what Israel does or does not do.

          Reply to Comment
    20. It’s of course no surprise to us that “Joel Leyden” and his fraudulent “Israel News Agency” are publishing outright lies. They do that not only with regard to important stories but also against many different people with whom they have personal issues. Please check out our site for more information about this serious problem.

      Reply to Comment
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