Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Terrorism, the Media, and Israel

Jun 2, 2010

Here we go again: more “peace activists” – complete with knives, iron rods, and clubs. It all takes me back to my radical student days, when I too was a “peace activist”. Indeed, those of us in the New Left were experts at using Orwellian doublespeak to achieve our aims: the overthrow of the West.

We became quite adept at highjacking legitimate causes and using them to further our revolution. And we became especially good at creating “incidents”. We knew how to engage in outrageous activities which were guaranteed to draw a response from the authorities, leading to a very public confrontation.

And we were of course always sure to have this violent “overreaction” by our opponents filmed by an eager media, to be broadcast in full colour on the six o’clock news. Amazing how we always came out looking like an innocent victim, and the police or other authorities ended up looking like the aggressor.

We became experts in manipulating the media to end up supporting our causes. We staged things so that our cause always looked right, and noble, and humanitarian, while our opponents always looked like inhumane aggressors, out to get us. We won one skirmish after another this way.

That is why the events over the past day or so concerning Israel’s response to the Turkish flotilla had such a familiar ring to it. The truth is, the radical left, the Islamist terrorists, and the enemies of Israel, have all managed to perfect this technique of staging an international “incident”.

They have become quite adept at provoking the beleaguered nation of Israel, generating a reaction from it, all with TV cameras rolling. The most recent episode was simply a case study of this strategy. And it worked wonderfully. All around the world the usual outrage has been generated, complete with a compliant mainstream media.

We of course expect the secular left, the Islamists, and the MSM to hate Israel. Thus this story comes as no surprise whatsoever, especially to those of us who were once part of the revolutionary left, and can recognise these tactics a mile away.

Fortunately a few commentators have been able to see through this ruse. Greg Sheridan for example writes about how the “Grotesque theatre succeeded brilliantly”. He explains, “It’s too early to call it definitively, but the evidence is disturbing. In the melee of the Gaza ships, real violence occurred on only one ship, the Marmara. It was a Turkish vessel and its activists came from the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH).

“The IHH is a pro-Hamas Islamist terror group implicated in numerous al-Qa’ida operations. They took clubs, steel bars, knives and perhaps guns on board. But their object was not to kill Israeli soldiers – though they would have been happy for that to happen. The aim was a kind of grotesque theatre, which is what all terrorism is really about, in this case to carry out enough violence to ensure a violent Israeli reaction. It succeeded brilliantly.

“For weeks before the flotilla set off, the Israelis were constantly nagging the Turkish ambassador in Tel Aviv to help them manage the situation. We can do nothing, the Turkish government said, adding the matter was being carried out by non-government organisations.

“The flotilla never had any interest in getting aid to Gaza. The Israelis offered to route the aid through the Israeli port of Ashdod. Or the flotilla could have landed in Egypt and sent the aid in by road. No, the flotilla existed only to make political theatre and the IHH activists were determined to make deadly theatre, for the more deadly the performance is, the bigger the theatre becomes.”

Andrew Bolt puts it this way: “What a coup for those pledged to the destruction of that tiny Jewish country. How discredited and invitingly defenceless Israel now seems. Someone couldn’t have scripted this any better. Well, almost no better, because even the journalists most sympathetic to the activists on the six ships intercepted on Monday by Israel couldn’t help but refer, albeit grudgingly, to a couple of untidy details too obvious to ignore.

“ABC radio host Jon Faine, for instance, described these poor victims of Zionist aggression as ‘humanitarian activists with a few knives’. Er, with knives? Humanitarians? And a strident report in The Age, Australia’s most Left-wing metropolitan daily, conceded that video of the Israeli soldiers being lowered on to the ships from helicopters did show that some of the ‘hundreds of politicians and protesters’ on board did offer ‘signs of resistance’.

“Here are some of those ‘signs of the resistance’ that this Age reporter tactfully failed to detail. You see the Israeli commandos, at first brandishing just paint-ball guns, being grabbed by mobs as they landed, dragged to the ground, and beaten brutally with metal pipes and clubs.

“On another clip, apparently shot by protesters, you see a soldier stabbed in the back, and then in the front. Another soldier is shown being beaten and thrown over the side. Photographs show two Israeli soldiers, one of them shot, being carried off with serious wounds. This isn’t what you’d normally expect from ‘peace protesters’ or ‘humanitarian activists’, even those armed merely ‘with a few knives’.”

Melanie Phillips provides some background to this story: “Gaza’s markets are full of produce, thousands of tons of supplies are travelling into Gaza every week through the Israeli-controlled border crossings, and there is no starvation or humanitarian crisis. It was always obvious that the flotilla was not the humanitarian exercise it was said to be.”

She continues, “And now we can see that the real purpose of this invasion – backed by the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), a radical Islamic organization outlawed by Israel in 2008 for allegedly serving as a major component in Hamas’s global fund-raising machine – was to incite a violent uprising in the Middle East and across the Islamic world.”

Contrary to a biased MSM, this was not an attack on the Turkish ship: “It is also becoming clearer as the day wears on that, far from storming the boats in order to attack those on board, the Israelis were hopelessly ill-prepared for the violence they encountered. Israel’s Channel 10 and IDF radio have reported that the Israeli naval commandos were equipped with paint ball rifles to ensure minimum casualties among the flotilla terrorists, with their hand guns to be used only as a last resort.

“The terrorists tried connecting the steel cables from the overhead helicopters to the boat’s antenna, in order to cause the helicopters to crash. Only when the terrorists beat the soldiers with iron rods, stabbed them with knives and tried to lynch them did the soldiers respond. The Israeli commandoes were pushed down stairs, thrown overboard, and shot at.”

She concludes, “It is becoming ever more clear that Islamist terror attacks like this are fiendishly staged theatrical events in which the western media – and beyond them, western governments – play an absolutely essential role in the drama. If those media and governments refused to swallow the lies and instead called operations like this and the players behind it for what they actually are, such terrorist operations would not happen.

“The Islamist strategy of war against Israel is carefully calibrated to deploy the most effective weapon in its armoury in the cause of jihadi violence – the western media. Right on cue, western governments accordingly deliver their own script in condemning the victims of terror for defending themselves. And so, courtesy of the west’s fifth columnists, yet another nail is driven into the west’s own coffin. Let’s see whether this time the western elites show any signs of waking from their lethal trance.”

Quite right. This is not the first such example of guerrilla theatre, and it will not be the last. It comes straight out of the radical’s playbook. I and plenty of others have used these tactics to great effect. Now the Islamists and enemies of Israel and the West are also using them, with great – and deadly – results.

[1337 words]

43 Responses to Terrorism, the Media, and Israel

  • It’s the Middle East political equivalent of the “badger game” where the terrorists bait Israel into having to do something (stop arms being smuggled into Gaza).

    Then when the action is taken they immediately become the “victim of aggression” and win the sympathy and support of ignorant free-thinkers.

    John Angelico

  • Bill, you have written a great article here, it draws together all my frustrations very accurately!
    Matthew Restall

  • Thanks for writing this Bill. Even after after reading mainstream reports such as it is clear that one side is not telling the truth.
    Peter Baade

  • Thanks for your insights Bill. I’ve been following Andrew Bolt’s blog on this story, and I can’t see what Israel has done wrong. The MSM is completely biased and ignores the facts, as is often the case, to suit their left wing objectives.
    David Roberts

  • The ABC’s Mr Faine got me very frustrated this morning.
    Ross McPhee

  • I don’t know who to be more wary of… Islamic terrorists or the media.. If the media is this easily manipulated, how can we be sure that we are EVER hearing the truth about anything?
    This is similar to how propaganda was used in Nazi Germany to create hatred of the Jews.
    Is it just me, or has Israel always seemed to be the central focus of the world throughout history?

    God said to Abraham, “I will bless those who bless you and I will curse those who curse you.”

    I’m tippin it’s not a good idea to go up against Israel folks.

    Bennett Donelly

  • I was very pleasantly surprised to read the balanced reports of this incident in this morning’s The Australian newspaper. This is now one of the very few newspapers left that is worth reading in this country.
    John Heasman

  • Brave Bill, you has only one side of the story – Israels. Soon we are going to have Journalist who was on the ship released and free to speak. We will hear what the actual peace activist say.

    The Hamas government was democratically elected and Hamas has been roundly condemned by most Western elites. Food might be getting into the Gaza strip, but not building supplies. After the Isreali military action, hospitals, schools and homes need to be rebuilt or repaired. The reason is that Israel is preventing building supplies is that Hamas has built and operated many hospitals and schools in Gaza.

    But let us wait until we hear both sides of the story.

    Michael Boswell

  • Sorry Michael, but for the past 48 hours we have been getting only one side of the story from the anti-Israel MSM. I simply try to offer a bit of balance here and you complain about my bias! That simply tells us something about your leanings in this matter.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • You are in a bad habit of merely rehashing Australia’s leading conservative commentators. You didn’t use to do this.

    I would expect more from someone claiming to offer biblical insight into these issues. Not just more conservative critique.

    Nathan Clarke

  • Thanks Nathan

    A few replies if I may:

    -Where exactly do I claim that I offer only “biblical insight” on the issues I write about? I do claim that this website “offers reflection and commentary drawing upon the wealth of wisdom found in the Judeo-Christian tradition”.

    -I write as much for secular audiences as I do for religious ones. My articles are duplicated and used all the time by all sorts of people all around the world. Probably more than half of my articles are written in secular language, utilising non-religious argumentation, without resorting to biblical analysis.

    -Just as I have book reviews on this site, so too I have article reviews, drawing the reader’s attention to important articles of note. I will leave it to my readers to decide whether this is a “bad habit”.

    -When an issue gets almost universally one-sided coverage, such as this one, I am more than happy to provide an alternative point of view. That is why this website exists – in part – to counter the propaganda of so much of the MSM.

    -I was once a radical secular leftist, then I became a Christian and have moved to the right. I make no apologies for this whatsoever. This is how God has led me.

    -If you are unhappy with what I do, or the way I do it, no one of course is forcing you to come to this site.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • In my view this is the start of the final persecution of Israel and the generation of sufficient bad media to ultimately excuse or even support an Islamic invasion. Remember that Israel is just one small nation and possibly the only country standing up to the global invasion of Islam. It is a light in the midst of darkness. When we can all derogate Israel and actually convince populations that Islam is good then truly we will all have been deceived and even the very elect could succumb.

    We are in an age of evil where the devil has the power to infiltrate and confuse the minds of the righteous via the new global media. Never before has there ever been this much power available either to one man, one nation or one entity. Sympathisers and those who have sold their very souls and principles have along with all types of sexual deviants finally found their place of maximum influence and corruption and they are swarming through the media like rats in a sewer.

    When we read the bible and the talk of Armageddon we mostly assume that America will be the saviour of Israel. Yet I am beginning to doubt this under the current president. This man of questionable faith has made it quite plain that America will never make war with Islam. Is that signal a two edged sword hinting at peace or is it a declaration of US response to an Israel invasion?

    Dennis Newland

  • Hi Nathan,

    Bill may not offer explicit ‘Biblical insight’ in this article, but on a purely practical level, the strength of Israel is unquestionably of great importance to Christians (and all non-Muslims) everywhere. Israel is effectively the front line in the war prosecuted by Muslims to subjugate other nations. Imagine if through our abandonment Israel fell – imagine the impetus this would give to Muslim groups all over the world to further their already extensive jihad against Western nations.

    Mansel Rogerson

  • Thanks guys

    Another good take on all this is found here:

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • It seem that it is just so difficult these days to have any fair, genuine reporting on the world about us. Political manipulation of public opinion is very destructive upon society. So too, is passive acceptance of the general gist, of all we hear in mainstream media.

    Without genuine, informed discourse, where is our dignity, our true humanity? As soon as I heard about the incident, I thought it had a very nasty smell about it. Thanks Bill, for your comments. May we begin to see the emergence of some new genuine media alternatives. At least lets keep speaking the truth in love, in our churches, and communities where possible.

    Are there any emerging media outlets, who promote the pursuit of the truth of a matter? Seriously.

    Trevor Faggotter

  • I thought there was some sensible comment in the Age about page 4 but as I haven’t got the copy and cannot find it on net cannot quote exactly. However it was to the effect that the only ones who suffer because of the blockade are the Israelis.
    Katherine Fishley

  • Thanks to Bill and Dennis for sharing your knowledge. As you say this is Islam invasion. I don’t know which is worse Islam or new age movement.
    Daniel Kempton

  • Pity our PM didn’t take time to brush up on the facts before he condemned Israel.
    But then he would like a seat on the UN?
    I found this info from The Israel Foreign Affairs Dept on the blockade interesting.
    Daniel Kempton

  • I watched the video and clearly saw Israeli soldiers being hit by a mob. In a phone call to the Israeli embassy and in an email to the Israeli PM’s website, I expressed the opinion that this was a victory for HAMAS in publicity terms.
    Dennis Newland I also had the same thought and phrased it in Churchill’s statement “is it the Beginning of the End? or the End of the Beginning of the End”.
    Wayne Pelling

  • When I started reading your well written article, some ideas to put in my comment came to mind. However, as I continued to read I found that you covered just about everything I was about to write and much more. Having 33 years experience in the media, I have come to the conclusion that with some notable exceptions such as Andrew Bolt, Greg Sheridan (and there are others) most writers in the shame stream media, such as in the Fairfax group are simply not particularly bright. Also with Obama, he now shows no support for Israel, contrary to what this hypocrite proclaimed prior to his unfortunate election. I would love to know more about this walking disaster’s background, but the public know little about him. Regarding the European governments’ attitudes to this latest fiasco (particularly poor old France) they have the belief, that if they feed the Islamic crocodiles with their support, then the crocodiles will eat them last.
    Frank Bellet, Petrie Qld

  • Bill,
    The world will never accept the truth because it has set its heart against Israel. End time events are playing out now. Check out John McTernan website on his insights on Israel bashing by enemies and ‘friends’ alike including USA and Obama, and endtimes events.
    Barry Koh

  • Why is it that if 40 people died in a Israeli missile attack, or 50 people died from a suicide bomber that we would barely glance our eyes at it, but in this case because of the media coverage we all become middle eastern experts. I think that both sides are claming the higher ground but to keep talking about these issues only succeeds in not talking about the bigger picture.
    Kevin Christensen

  • Thanks guys

    “This was no humanitarian mission devoted to helping the people of Gaza, but the ‘army of Muhammad’ reciting chants as it psyched itself for jihad against the Jews.” See the new post by Mark Durie:

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Hi Wayne I also thought of that quote by Winston Churchill when I had my say so we must be on the same page.
    Winston actually said.
    This is not the beginning
    Nor is it the end
    But it is
    The beginning of the end.

    Dennis Newland

  • Once again a congo line of brave sheep gang up to condemn Israel for non-existent atrocities.

    It seems a bunch of Israeli Naval warriors with paint-ball guns is more a scene of atrocity than the millions dead and raped in places like the Congo. But who would even know of what goes on in the Congo today? Such is the Jew hatred and moral phoniness that inhabits the international elite and their cowardly attacks on Israel.

    Damien Spillane

  • To Dennis Newland – spot on mate, spot on!
    Steve Davis

  • Walid Phares also had an interesting view on the geo-political tactics of this so-called ‘humanitarian’ effort;

    ‘According to the organisers of the “Free Gaza” network which enjoys the support of Hamas and its backers in Damascus and Tehran but also of governments considered in the West as “mainstream” such as the AKP of Turkey and the oil rich Qatar, this vast coalition of regimes and organisations assert that the aim of the 700 militants and activists was to pierce the encirclement of Gaza and lift the naval blockade of the enclave. Hence the actual goal of the humanitarian effort is to relieve Hamas, not to ensure aid to the civilians trapped in the strip. For if aid and comfort was the sole objective of the operation, the material would have been calmly handed to the United Nations’ agencies which would have forwarded it to the network of humanitarian associations and NGOs inside the afflicted zone. Either Egypt or Israel would have checked it and would have, under international obligation, sent it across the ceasefire lines.’

    Damien Spillane

  • Your words, Bill – “I was once a radical secular leftist, then I became a Christian and have moved to the right. I make no apologies for this whatsoever. This is how God has led me.”

    When did God turn ‘right wing’? Was he ever ‘Left wing’? Surely as Christians we are for Christ and for the pursuit of truth; be it truth from anyone’s lips – a radical Islamist’s, Rudd’s, Abbott’s, a Bilderberger’s and so on. Bill, I check your site several times a day and I like very much what you write; become even a stronger force in the public arena with your writings by seeking 100% to be on God’s side.

    Grant Squelch

  • Bill
    reading the transcript of a recent media briefing by the US State Department, it seems like the journalists (many of whom are seasoned ones from reputable publications) are having a feeding frenzy pressing the view that Israel had violated a humanitarian mission. see
    also, in case anyone is swayed by reports that humanitarian aid is not entering Gaza, check this out :
    Henry Lim

  • Thanks Grant

    But where in my comment did I say God has changed positions? If you read carefully my words you will note that it is I who has shifted. As I prayerfully seek to do what God has called me to do, the result at the moment is CultureWatch and its editorial positions. It is where I am now at in my spiritual journey. My words are not gospel and no one need accept them as such. I constantly pray that God continues to lead me to speak for him accurately and forthrightly.

    And if you are in fact a regular reader of this site then you will know that I have said perhaps dozens of times now that God is ultimately beyond party politics and the like. He is not tied down to any one human ideology or political position.

    Are you or any believer in the world ‘100% on God’s side’? It was Abraham Lincoln, replying to a clergyman who assured him, “God is on our [the North’s] side [in the Civil War]” who said, “I know that the Lord is always on the side of right. But it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and this nation should be on the Lord’s side.” That is all I can seek to do, along with you and all other believers.

    And as I tell my critics, if they pray for me as much as they spend time criticising me, I would be greatly pleased indeed. Indeed, I need your prayers more than you might realise.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Hi Bill
    I also on occasion have been accused of neglecting truth in order to support right wing ideals; usually by those who emphatically identify themselves as left-wing ‘progressives’. It seems to me from my reading of your blog in the last little while that you, as I, seek to discern from scripture right from wrong and sometimes the ‘right’ is right , Far too often it appears when all truth has been argued away, all you have left is ‘left’.
    Glenn Christopherson

  • Thanks Glenn

    Yes I have written numerous articles seeking to explain why I feel my biblical faith more closely lines up with the right side of politics than the left. I try to spell this out in various places, including:

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Hi Bill,

    For any doubters the proof text is, of course, Ecclesiastes 10:2 –

    “A wise man’s heart directs him toward the right, but the foolish man’s heart directs him toward the left” 🙂

    Mansel Rogerson

  • Thanks Mansel

    Hey, sounds good to me!

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • I’m not qualified to say much as I’m not well enough informed. I just know that God doesn’t change His mind. The Jews are, and will always remain, His chosen people. Jesus, my Lord and brother is a Jew. I do think that they are often a rebellious and unfaithful people — like the rest of us! and of course when we’re not in a faithful relationship with God our discernment suffers. Not everything the Israeli nation has done in the past has been right or just.
    Anna Cook

  • Thanks guys

    See here why a weak and appeasing US President is encouraging terrorism and fostering geopolitical instability:

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Yes Bill you do need our prayers. However as far as I am concerned the Holy Spirit is guiding you very well!
    Jane Byrne

  • Thank you Bill for your excellent article. At my first hearing of the “incident” I said to my wife: “Sounds like a propaganda stunt”. Upon seeing some of the movie clips of IDF men coming down from a helicopter one by one onto the ship, could hardly be seen as a military assault. In not so very earlier days the ship would have simply been sunk (I lived through WW2).

    Israel and Gaza not at war?

    Have Australians forgotten the first bombing of Darwin by the Japanese and the immediate reaction of thousands of volunteers enlisting to fight the Japanese? How would Australians react if a few thousand rockets now fell on Darwin fired from, say, East Timor?

    Joost Gemeren

  • Thanks guys

    The MSM does not want us to know about the suicide activists on the Turkish flotilla, and how this whole episode was staged to bring about the condemnation of Israel:

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Now more of the story comes out as one of the Israeli Sargent’ s (who killed six of the terrorists) tells of the life threatening situation they were in.
    And see update 3 from Andrew Bolt today Saturday.
    Rob Withall

  • Charles Krauthammer is as brilliant as always in his article ‘Israel Blockade Is Both Legal and Rational’

    Damien Spillane

  • Dear Bill,

    This is an incisive and exceptionally well written article that cuts to the heart of the issues at hand.

    Well done! This is a message that needs to be told to the world.

    Paul Evans

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