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Truth, tapes and two dead Palestinians

The raging debate about the death of the Beitunia teens will become eternally self-referential as each side pumps up its own greater narratives. Herein lies perhaps the greatest victory for the stronger side.

Two Palestinian teens were killed last Thursday, Nakba Day. Until yesterday, it was also true that the Palestinian teens were shot with live ammunition by Israeli forces. There is excessive documentation – eyewitnesses, news outlets, still photos and 12 hours of video from the security cameras monitoring the shack-like structures where they were shot, owned by a private Palestinian.

Members of the Palestinian national security forces carry the bodies of Nadim Seeam Abu Kara and Muhammad Abu Da'har during their funeral procession in the West Bank city of Ramallah on May 16, 2014. Abu Kara and Muhammad Abu Da'har were shot dead by Israeli forces during clashes the previous day outside the Israeli-run Ofer prison following a protest commemorating the Nakba. Foreign press published that the two died in a Ramallah hospital after being shot in the chest during a protest to demand the release of thousands of Palestinians held by Israel. (Activestills.org)

Members of the Palestinian National Security Forces carry the bodies of Nadim Seeam Abu Kara and Muhammad Abu Da’har during their funeral procession in the West Bank city of Ramallah, May 16, 2014. Activestills.org)

A week later, the IDF embraced different facts. It is conducting an investigation and here are the theories that have come out so far, according to news reports: the IDF used only rubber bullets, not live ammunition. It is not clear that Israeli forces did it; the youth might have been shot by Palestinian fire.  The youth who were brought to the hospital and died might not be the same youth who were shot. The 12 hours of video that shows them being hit, says an unnamed “senior security figure” to Haaretz, is “very likely fabricated.”

WATCH: Footage shows Israeli army’s killing of two Palestinian teens

These competing theories are like the opening shots (so to speak) in a race of narratives and obsession with angles. What was the direction of the shot? What could the soldiers see from their angle? Is a hospital report saying they were killed by live bullets credible? Should the graves be opened and a body exhumed, as the father of one of the dead has offered, to prove the truth?

There is something deeply disturbing about seeing these lines reappear almost verbatim as they have been spoken about previous incidents: in the case of Jawaher Abu Rahma, who died at a demonstration in Bil’in in 2011 after inhaling tear gas; or the towering symbol of Mohammed Al-Dura, the Palestinian child killed in crossfire during the Second Intifada, a symbol of martyrdom and manipulation to Palestinians and Israelis, respectively.

Why do public voices start playing with the truth? Mostly when they feel the truth will reflect badly on them. What does it means to manipulate the truth? Public figures are well aware that the post-modern mindset makes it hard to pin down facts. Throwing out theories, no matter how wild, raises doubts even if far-fetched. Using words inaccurately, or not admitting to one’s actions is another form. Accusing the other side of full-out conspiracy and elaborate fabrications is another.

In a recent article about Ukraine, The New York Times pointed out that facts are spun into fuses to light the fires for each side. Russian propaganda cries ‘fascist anti-Semites’ at Kiev, while Kiev calls pro-Russian separatists ‘terrorists.’ While I think the Times piece paints a naïve dichotomy between ‘healthy’ societies (like the US) and conflict situations, this line rings true:

The fragmentation of consensus about critical events and the degradation of legitimate political authority are like two apocalyptic horsemen riding together.

The apocalypse is solipsistic: the raging debate about the Beitunia teens, like Abu Rahma and Al-Dura, will become eternally self-referential as each side pumps up its own greater narratives. The IDF will continue to argue that the tape is fabricated, to frantically salvage its degraded political authority. It will become an example of Israeli righteousness and manipulative Palestinian wrongfulness and the whole community of blind-support for Israel will rally to this cause. Palestinians and supporters will continue to insist that unarmed victims are being murdered but nobody believes them or cares. That camp too will rally to its narrative.

Here lies perhaps the greatest victory for the stronger side. When the events move from hard facts to a battle of narratives, false symmetry emerges. My word against your word; my accusations of falsification and cover ups, versus yours. But the only thing false is the parity.

The Palestinians are a stateless people living under military occupation or as refugees. This situation began in 1948, which is why there are demonstrations that day – to protest the ongoing impossibility of their lives. Two Palestinian teens were shot and killed on 15 May, 2014 – that is a fact. The Nakba takes lives, physically and spiritually, to this day – that is its meaning.

Related:
WATCH: Footage shows Israeli army’s killing of two Palestinian teens
Beitunia killings and the media’s incredibly high bar for Palestinian stories
Human rights NGO: Investigate senior IDF officers over Ofer killings

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    COMMENTS

    1. Johnboy

      Here is how the IDF usually plays these games…

      1) BANG! And another Palestinian is dead.

      2) The Palestinians accuse the IDF of killing that Palestinian with a bullet

      3) The IDF says that it is looking into the possibility that a stray IDF Tear Gas / Dropped Lollipop / You Name It may have killed a Palestinian.

      [NOTE THE TRICK: what the IDF is investigating isn’t **actually** what it has been accused of doing]

      4) The press trumpet the “fact” that the Most Moral Army In The World is demonstrating its undoubted morality by investigating the possibility of “death by IDF Lollipop”

      4) Once that narrative – the “lethal lollipop theory” – has taken hold then the IDF investigators produce their results: it is impossible for a lollipop to have killed anyone, so The Whole Thing Must Be Pure 100% Pallywood!

      Meanwhile, of course, what is lost is all that triumphant chest-beating is this: nobody actually accused the IDF of *that* crime.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Two boys killed, a third one shot in the back and the left lung, he survived miraculously. As I understood a fourth bullit was found in the backpack of another boy, probably The Holocaust Illustrated saved him from certain death. That’s 4 out of 4.
      All shots were from long distance, so we should look for a champion. Let’s get all the soldiers drunk and see who starts boasting first.

      Reply to Comment
      • haifawi

        honestly the only surprising thing about this is that CNN actually has something of journalistic value to contribute.
        cue the right wing saying we need to ban cameras

        Reply to Comment
      • I’ve given up on internal comments for obvious reasons. But CNN would not have aired this without strong belief on their part they are correct. Thanks for posting the link.

        The question now is stark: do we see people, or ever only People.

        Reply to Comment
        • Lisbon Portugal

          Pollock, I miss the time you spent in your self-imposed comment exile.

          Reply to Comment
      • BaladiAkka 1948

        Nah, that CNN camera man has an Arabic name, just like the France 2 camera man filming the Mohammad al-Durah killing. Ginger-Ale/Bar/Rab will find a way to ‘explain’ these killings too. Reality has never been an obstacle to these people…

        Reply to Comment
        • Ginger, Rab, Bar, Lisbon et al are here precisely because they do not determine how everyone else thinks. There job is to shut all else down. That flags their true weakness.

          Reply to Comment
          • Rab

            Um, I’m merely a commenter. Most people who come to this site only read the article and not many have the patience to read the comments, especially the idiotic threads with Shachalnur.

            So to suggest that I’m shutting anything down is absurd.

            As you well know, when you debated me, I did not shut you down. I offered solid information, but with a differing viewpoint. It seems to me a little ridiculous that you are somehow offended by comments with which you disagree on a site that is entirely populated by writers and their pieces which are strongly critical of Israel.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ginger Eis

            Mr. Greg Pollock, you yourself have admitted to being obsessed with Israel. You yourself described said obsession as “deviant” (I will post the link if you deny!). Your own country (the USA) has more social, racial and human rights problems than Israel, but you do absolutely nothing to help the poor, downtrodden and oppressed minorities in your own country! On the contrary, you spend 7-days a week and 24hrs a day (except when you sleep) obsessing with Israel, ranting against Israel, talking incomprehensible mumbo jumbo and boring folks to death, (while unemployed and surviving on government food-stamps and other social benefits). Get professional help, sicko. Begin with finding a job!

            Reply to Comment
          • shachalnur

            Deja que los perros ladran Sancho amigo, es señal que vamos avanzando.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ginger has proven my point. Of course I’m deviant. So are you. Ben Gurion was deviant, as was Spinoza. You do know what happen to the latter, I trust?

            As to Rab, yes, you are different, as instanced with comparison to Ginger.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ginger Eis

            Mr. Pollock, what kind of person utters, among others, this kind of mumbo jumbo: “Reality is not a summed set of events but an instantiation of truth into each event. Peoples do acts, not persons; persons are the cells of acting Peoples. This, sadly, is also the basis of anti-Semitism as well as other racial struggle views of the world” (!) and then proceeds to compare himself to famous Jewish leaders and philosophers such as Ben Gurion and Baruch Spinoza?! Gee. Get lost, dude! I have neither the patience nor the civility to endure your delusions as the good ol’ Rab would (and your paranoid attack above on Rab and others was uncalled-for and unjustified). Again, seek help and bring peace to your soul.

            Reply to Comment
    3. Tzutzik

      To fellow Israelis …

      It is a sad day. I am not convinced that the IDF is guilty of this accusation. But the incident needs to be thoroughly investigated. If a soldier is guilty, we need to deal with it to ensure that this does not happen again. If we are guilty, we need to acknowledge it and move on. No need to be overly apologetic though. As much as we dislike it, this is the type of thing that happens to all armies in all conflicts. And we are not the ones who want this conflict.

      If we are not guilty, then say so and produce whatever evidence there is then move on. No need to worry about the professional haters. Nothing we can say or do will convince them even if we are not guilty. Let the bastards believe what they want to believe …

      To the haters of Israel …

      Enjoy your orgasm. But ponder on this. Unlike our enemies, our natural inclination is not to rejoice when children on either side die in this war that our enemies impose on us. Contrast this with how they celebrate everytime they succeed in perpetrating a terrorist act against us and our children. Watch this video …

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UH-IINhvQvI

      And weep.

      To the parents of Palestinian children …

      Instead of sending out your children to the streets to throw stones at us. Stones that sometimes kill. Try and make peace with us. Tell your leaders to stop playing their silly political games while lining their pockets.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Tzutzik

      Sorry the above link didn’t work. Here is one that works. Watch the second video and weep:

      http://www.solveisraelsproblems.com/terrorist-attack-on-bus-in-tel-aviv-hamas-celebrates/

      Contrast their reaction to ours. Whether we are guilty or not (and I have reason to be sceptical about the allegations) we are not rejoicing. They are. They openly celebrate everytime they are successful in harming us.

      Reply to Comment
        • Ginger Eis

          Dear Elisabeth, Israel has one of the most far reaching right of freedom of speech in the world. That right applies equally to Arabs, Jews, Christians, etc. Within the ambits of that right, folks are allowed to empty the content of their thoughts and minds and what they say and do might be offensive to others. Arabs and leftist Israelis make the most use of this right to hurt and delegitimize Israel. The crux of Tzutzik’s post is that when a Jewish Israeli crosses the line, Israel acts to uphold the law and Israelis do not take joy in the suffering of the innocent. The links you provided do not negate this basic fact. The Gaza war was a war against Hamas and terrorism. Obviously, Israelis will rejoice when terrorist-killers are dealt a heavy blow. The unavoidable civilian casualties are most regrettable and painful for us!

          Reply to Comment
          • Elisabeth

            If Israeli’s even regret the killing of terrorists, then why do they rejoice over Palestinian children suffocated in a car, or Palestinian toddlers killed in a bus accident?

            Admit it: You did not read what it said in the links, did you.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ginger Eis

            I did read the links, Elisabeth. Remember the 1982 Lebanon war? It is well documented that ordinary Israelis ultimately forced that war to end because of mounting civilian casualties on the Arab side. This happens only in Israel (when the American public stopped the war in Vietnam, they did it not because of the high number of civilian casualties on the Vietnamese side but because American GIs were coming back in body bags in their tens of thousands). The hallucinations of a few (allegedly Israeli) lunatics on twitter and/or face book is painful and not representative of Israelis (as is the case in every human society) and it would be a fallacy to claim otherwise.

            Reply to Comment
          • Elisabeth

            You generalize in the good direction when you describe what Israeli’s are like, and you generalize in the bad direction when you describe what others are like.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ginger Eis

            Point taken, Elisabeth.

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            And you people, yes people like you Elisabeth, generalise the other way.

            That too was my point. That is why I said to fellow Israelis to ignore the haters.

            All my other points stand on their own merit. You said nothing to negate them.

            Reply to Comment
          • Elisabeth

            Thank you for that, Ginger Eis.

            I wish the discussion between the two opposing sides could be conducted in the tone of this exchange between two people who do not agree at all, but who still show each other some basic respect:
            http://www.avnery-news.co.il/english/index.html

            Reply to Comment
          • IlonJ

            Do you know who Uri Avnery is, Elisabeth?

            Of course he and a hater of Israel can have an amicable discussion. Is the Pope Catholic??

            Reply to Comment
          • IlonJ

            Elisabeth

            The video which Tsutsik presented shows the reaction of Hamas TV to a terrorist operation. They boast about it and are beside themselves with Joy.

            Contrast that to the reaction of the Israeli public media. They are in denial about the shooting.

            But what do you do to prove your point? You bring up the reaction of some individual Israelis at a picnic.

            You prove your own point. You generalize against Israel. Look into your own soul before lecturing to others about generalizing.

            Reply to Comment
    5. Rab

      As of this writing, both Yediot and Haaretz are reporting that the CNN video with the shooting sniper is showing a gun that has the rubber bullet attachment on it.

      Yediot is also reporting that the IDF delegation sent to investigate was permitted to see an injured teen in a Ramallah hospital but only saw a clean cartridge as evidence, not one that had been fired.

      Again, that doesn’t exonerate anyone, but so far the smoking gun hasn’t been found and the soldiers and their commanders are insisting they only used crowd dispersal means (as the CNN video shows).

      There were numerous journalists with video cameras there. In the Haaretz article, the interviewed journalists are claiming they were under rubber bullet fire, not live rounds. Surely, with all the video cameras, somebody has evidence of this accusation – the Israeli soldiers were out in the open.

      Reply to Comment
      • shachalnur

        CNN having the alleged scoop on Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian youths?

        When did that ever happen,true or not?

        CNN is controlled by Israel’s former supporters and enablers.

        The fact CNN is doing this ,is a clear sign they’ve been ordered to drop Israel.

        The MSM is turning on Israel ,so you better get used to it.

        And don’t ask yourself why,after supporting Israel for 66 years,it will only cause cognitive dissonance.

        Reply to Comment
      • Elisabeth

        Others say this:
        In the video the guy fires the weapon twice in succession without reloading. The M16 adapters for special or oversized ordinance launchers that I’m used to are muzzle loaders. You employ a magazine on the rifle filled with blank cartridges and have to reload the larger ammo in the tube attached to the muzzle between shots. If you are carrying both live rounds and blanks you ordinarily spray paint the clips so you can quickly identify them. There are a number videos showing people with red spray painted clips, including the guy in the middle @3:43 in the CNN video.
        1 They are firing multiple rounds without loading anything in the muzzle adapters.

        2 It doesn’t prove anything, but most people use red markings on clips containing live ammo.

        Reply to Comment
        • Rab

          Unfortunately, I’m not an expert on munitions. However, if both Yediot and Ha’aretz, in articles written by different reporters, and presumably with lots of people in their newsrooms who have served in combat units, are saying the same thing, it’s probably wise to listen.

          Reply to Comment
          • Elisabeth

            I looked for the articles when you mentioned they were online, but they must be in the Hebrew editions, as I did not find them.

            Reply to Comment
    6. IlonJ

      Oh no …

      Not Shachalnur again …

      Reply to Comment
      • shachalnur

        First symptoms of cognitive dissonance are flatout denial of the facts that cause the dissonance, and attacking the messenger.

        Reply to Comment
    7. Ginger Eis

      From the legal/evidentiary point of view, the CNN video is worthless. It neither contains any new information nor does it corroborate the manipulated CCTV-video clip from the Palestinian-Arabs (both video clips do not have the same content). Furthermore, the CNN video does not show Israeli soldiers firing a single “live round” or even firing and hitting anyone with rubber-bullets, Et cetera, et cetera!

      There is a Military Police investigation ongoing. I guarantee everyone that said investigation will be more than thorough, both from the technological and ballistic points of views. Ultimately the truth will come out (contrary to erroneous suggestions/assumptions of Ms. Scheindlin). If any IDF-soldier is found to have murdered anyone in cold blood, he/she will be punished as deserved and kicked out of the IDF for life! In the mean time, I urge all the reasonable persons here and the usual unemployed professional talk-backers fuming with insane hate against Israel (Danny, Greg Pollock, BaladiAkka, etc.) to hold their fire. Israel is a democracy founded on the Rule Of Law. The media, journalists and talk-backers do not get to decide the guilt or innocence of anyone. Period. Wait for the results of the investigation and stop this lynch-mob orgy!

      Reply to Comment
      • Tzutzik

        Ginger

        They did the same thing when that teacher was facing potential dismissal after he was accused by a right wing pupil.

        They pretended that the teacher was already dismissed instead of waiting for the outcome of the investigations.

        Of course, the teacher was not dismissed. But we didn’t hear the usual haters apologising for their hystrionic accusations. Oh well, nothing new under the sun. History is repeating itself with these people.

        Reply to Comment
    8. BaladiAkka 1948

      Haggai Matar was interviewed by Russia Today.
      Yeah, I know, the usual propagandists here are going to dismiss RT, without listening to what Haggai is saying (and he knows what he’s talking about, he’s been wounded at least twice by the IDF in the West Bank):
      http://www.rt.com/news/160332-un-israel-palestinian-killed/

      Reply to Comment
      • Ginger Eis

        Nothing new there. Nothing of any legal/evidentiary value. Israel is a democracy founded on the Rule Of Law. The media and journalists don’t get to decide the guilt or innocence of anyone. There is a Military Police investigation ongoing. Said investigation will be more than thorough, both from the technical, technological and ballistic points of views. The truth will definitely come out and if any IDF-soldier is found to have murdered anyone in cold blood, he/she will be punished as deserved and kicked out of the IDF for life! In the mean time, wait for the results of the investigation, get a hold of yourself and stop raging throughout the threads!

        Reply to Comment
        • BaladiAkka 1948

          “Nothing new here”
          You’re right, when Haggai speaks about the IDF who kills dozens of Palestinian civilians every year, we’ve all known that for a long time. Thanks for acknowledging.

          “Get a hold on yourself and stop raging throughout the threads !”
          Who the hell do you think you are ! We’re not at a check-point here, and you have absolutely no authority. Besides, you’ve posted far more comments than me on this site, in fact you seem to be here full-time.
          Irhali !

          Reply to Comment
    9. Tzutzik

      I don’t know about the teenager who allegedly got shot in the chest, that bit of the video was not distinct and distant.

      But the one who supposedly got shot in the back looked very fake and contrived. I won’t elaborate why. Just my impression. Of course I acknowledge that I could be wrong but that is MY impression. I just don’t believe that people die that way when they are shot. Anyway, I am prepared to wait till we find out the facts and if necessary, I am prepared to change my mind.

      Reply to Comment
      • Elisabeth

        They definitely seem to be dead. I do not think this footage from the morgue (towards the end) is faked. But maybe I misunderstand you?

        Reply to Comment
        • IlonJ

          Elisabeth

          He was talking specifically about the boy who was allegedly shot in the back. And that footage alone.

          If you have proof that the boy shown in the morgue, whatever video that is, is the same boy as the one who is shown to be shot, them please present it.

          Otherwise …

          Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            Thank you. I could not have said it better myself.

            Reply to Comment
          • directrob

            This article is quoted in the Guardian.

            Tzutzik, I do not know why the soldiers though it be right to shoot down three kids. I do not know why they kept firing rubber bullets at the rescuers. Maybe they are psychopaths or maybe they think Palestinians are lower life forms. (Luckily most soldiers do not behave like them)

            Why first defend these soldiers why look for excuses first. It is not bad for an army/border police force to arrest rogue elements. If they had done so immediately Israel would not been harmed.

            As to your “alleged” and your “impression” , against the words of the Palestinian shop owner, medics, the surviving boy, B’Tselem, and photographers they sound hollow. So hollow that I think you are one of the very many people responsible for the climate in which these wilful killings are committed.

            Reply to Comment
          • shachalnur

            To get an answer to the question why young Israeli soldiers shoot “lower life forms”,you should look into “The Milgram Experiment”.(1963)

            Israelis a humans as well ,eventhough Zionists seem to think they’re different.

            Reply to Comment
          • directrob

            You seem to be right. Assuming Palestinian medics, the shop owner and photographers tell the truth it was commander point and soldier shoot from two positions, so the thing was probably coordinated.

            Reply to Comment
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