PR Over Proof

If the Gaza Strip is comprised of fewer than 90,000 acres, is it possible that eight million of those acres were destroyed? Does it matter?

Lori Lowenthal Marcus,

Arutz 7
If the Gaza Strip is comprised of fewer than 90,000 acres, is it possible that eight million of those acres were destroyed? Does it matter?

In Arab presentations to the media, a good story trumps truth. Facts are frequently disposable inconveniences. A Palestinian official announced that nearly eight million non-existent acres of prime Gazan orchards were destroyed and blames the Israelis. The Gaza Strip's actual size being totally irrelevant, the charges are reported as fact, even when a little arithmetic could expose them as nonsense. It's the "round up the usual suspects" exercise.

Because who cares about proof; PR is better. The very best example of that is, of course, Jenin.

The international media was convinced, and in bold headlines informed all, that hundreds of Arabs had been brutally slaughtered by Israelis during the famous "Jenin Massacre."

So persuasive were the Arab propagandists and allegedly grieving families that members of the press believed they were smelling the "stench of rotting Arab corpses," and viewing overflowing burial pits of hundreds of dead Palestinians. That was the story they wrote and that grabbed worldwide attention. The truth, of course, was that not hundreds or thousands, but fewer than 60 Arabs died during the fighting, and of that, more than half were terrorists.

There were no rotting corpses, just rotten lies.

In the Gazan town of Rafah, the PR-over-proof professionals recently scored another goal. On May 19th, a battle took place in which seven Gazans died. What was the Arab spin? A "procession" of Palestinians, including men, women and children, were passing through the streets of the Rafah refugee camp.

All of a sudden, the news reports repeated the spin, huge Israeli tanks created a "horrifying scene of death as an Israeli tank and helicopter opened fire on the Palestinians."

According to the media, at least 23 Palestinians were murdered. Lifeless bodies were strewn about and dozens of houses were demolished. Two Palestinian children, a brother and a sister, were killed, shot through the head. Dozens of reporters rushed in for interviews and photo opportunities. The usual suspects, of course, were the Israelis. And that's how it was reported.

In time, the truth came out. The "procession" was more of a demonstration. The Palestinian leadership and the mosque imams had instructed the Gazans, and especially encouraged women and children, to march upon the Israelis, surrounding the men in their midst armed with AK-47s. The IDF tank and helicopter did not "open fire on the Palestinians," but shot at a wall of an empty building in order to disperse the crowd.

There weren't 23 Arabs killed, there were only seven. And of the seven, five were shot by the armed Arabs themselves, either intentionally or as the terrorists battled the Israelis. The two children killed were hit by Arab gunfire. But the truth was reported through only a few sources, and only after the "massacre" stories had already raged through the media.

The propagandists had pulled another "Jenin." The truth, emerging after careful analysis, was not the news. The glib assertions by the Palestinian authorities, available before deadline on the day of the battle, were.

You'd think the media would have been gun-shy after Jenin was proven a non-massacre. And yet, everyone danced as the same tune was played again.

In the beginning of August, in the small town of Beit Hanoun in the Northern section of Gaza, another PR pirouette was brilliantly executed.

Israel's deployment in the Gazan town, described by officials as "Gaza's breadbasket," allegedly left the town in ruin. The presence of the Israelis was described as a "five-week siege and occupation" that resulted in a huge amount of destruction.

But what really piqued my interest was a description of the damage given by a former resident of Beit Hanoun, the current Palestinian Housing Minister Abdelrahman Hamad. According to Minister Hamad, "eight million acres of farmland in the northern Gaza Strip had been damaged or destroyed by the incursion." I'm not good at math, but eight million acres sounded like a lot.

According to the CIA World Fact Book, the Gaza Strip is 360 square kilometers. Do the math -- there are fewer than 90,000 acres in all of Gaza. The entire town of Beit Hanoun cannot be 25,000 acres altogether. On the slide down from eight million to 25,000, I began to wonder how much was really "uprooted".

Apparently, numbers have no meaning. When the deaths of Palestinian children by Palestinians' bullets are falsely attributed to Israelis, and corpses multiply beyond reality, where is there any place for fact? The Israelis are always blamed, no matter the actual source of death and destruction. The Arabs pronounce, and the journalists comply, by "round[ing] up the usual suspects."

And so, we'll always have Jenin. Play it again, Sam.