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Monday, October 10, 2005

A lesson in spin from Sweden

In the weekend Israeli soldiers shot dead three people on the Gaza border. The Swedish wire service, TT, picked up a feed from Agence France-Presse which paints a very different picture to that delivered by Reuters. TT also sees fit to add some revisionist history to demonstrate how Sharon is responsible for the deaths of three innocent boys. Reuters, no pro-Israel source itself, has a much more informative story. Or at least less propagandist. I'm beginning to see why Israel is widely demonised round these northern parts.

From two large dailies,Dagens Nyheter, Göteborgs Posten
Three teenage boys were shot to death by Israeli soldiers in the Gaza strip near the border with Israel, according to Palestinian medical and security sources on Sunday evening. All three were civilian and unarmed, said the Palestinian security service. Palestinian medics found the three boys near the Kissufim crossing. They had no ID but were judged to be in their early to mid teens. The Israeli military claimed that soldiers near the Gaza border shot at the three "suspected figures", who crept close to the fence on the Palestinian side. The Israelis claim that two of them were hit but couldn't say how badly as they were on the Palestinian side.
Note the continual reference to them being "boys", judged by medics at the scene to be early to mid teens. They lacked ID but were civilian and are stated to be unarmed. The reason for shooting at them is not given, other than being near the border. The article continues with

With the latest deaths, 4845 people have died during the Palestinian uprising, the Intifada, which began five years ago, the majority of those killed are Palestinian. The Intifada resumed after many years of cease-fire, when Ariel Sharon conducted his provocative march up to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Some months later Sharon and his Likud party won the election and he took over as Prime Minister.
Nice way to connect a death toll to the real cause of the deaths of three unarmed boys who were almost playing by the border, the real cause being Sharon and his restarting the Intifada. That of course elides a good amount of history in favour of a simple anti-Israel line. But AFP is not exactly known for a neutral line on Israel and the Swedish news wire which picks up these stories for most papers, TT, is also known for spinning what they print. I couldn't find the definitive AFP release, but a dodgy Babelfish translation from Le Monde only has the story about the three dead and nothing at all about the Intifada. So it seems that the Swedish wire service saw fit to put in the helpful background material for their readers.

By comparison here is what Reuters has
The Israeli army said troops had spotted three Palestinians crawling near the Gaza border fence, one carrying a bag. Suspecting it contained explosives, the soldiers shot at the Palestinians after they failed to heed calls to stop.

It was unclear whether the men were militants. Palestinians later brought their bodies to a Gaza hospital and medics said that no weapons were found on them.
Here they are not boys, not even noted to be young enough to be early teens. They were suspected to be carrying explosives and failed to stop after being called. It is now unclear if they were militants and were found to be unarmed AFTER being brought to the hospital. Still, if they were carrying explosives it is unlikely that whoever drove them to the hospital would carry that with them I'd imagine. This is rather different from the line sold to the major Swedish papers, even Reuters is not pro-Israel but failed to get the juicy teenage details in.

Clearly omitting any mention of explosives is also important to the innocent "teenage boy" line. There is generally only one use for explosives smuggled into Israel, killing other children, teenagers and unarmed civilians.

Stuff picked up the Reuters story, as did most other English speaking papers as far as I can see.
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Posted by Chefen | 10/10/2005 06:54:00 pm


Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

O/T (sorry Chefen) - is anyone else having problems selecting text on our page? I suspect a problem with some of the Javascript Show/Hide code or an incomplete Div somewhere.

10/10/2005 08:45:00 pm  
Blogger Chefen said...

AL, yep can't select any text.

10/10/2005 08:47:00 pm  

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