Quoting lies about Israel - the easy way to write an article

Published date08 June 2021
Date08 June 2021
Publication titleIsrael National News (Israel)
The four-part documentary is an over three-hour long attack on the Zionist movement and the state of Israel. The first quote to flash across the screen at the start of the documentary is from Arnold Toynbee: "The tragedy in Palestine is not just a local one; it is a tragedy for the world, because it is an injustice that is a menace to the world's peace."

Damen's Al Nakba presents an entirely anti-Israeli perspective, eliding and ignoring the national, religious, historic, and cultural connection between Jews and the Land of Israel/Palestine, and blaming Zionists for the current troubles in the Middle East — and perhaps for the lack of global peace, too. It's a propaganda film for a propaganda news channel.

Apparently, though, Al Nakba's narrative is also exactly what the editors of the British online newspaper The Independent wanted to convey to readers by publishing writer and blogger Joe Sommerlad's "A brief history of the Israel-Palestinian conflict" (May 13, 2021) during the recent eleven days of fighting between Hamas and Israel.

About three quarters of the content of Sommerlad's 2,300-word article is taken directly from Al Nakba, often word for word — but with no mention of Damen or her documentary. It seems that, having gone that far, Sommerlad may as well have plagiarized more of Damen's propaganda film. When he doesn't have her documentary to rely on for information, or veers from her script and begins interjecting content not spelled out there, his writing is usually incorrect or false anyway.

I'll leave detailed criticism of Damen's documentary for another time. The questions I want to raise here are why The Independent's editors thought that it was acceptable to run Sommerlad's plagiarized article and why they thought his writing would afford The Independent's readers useful context about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or about the May battle. Sommerlad's article was also picked up by MSN, and the same questions apply to MSN's editors. I'll provide five examples demonstrating Sommerlad's plagiarism, and several other examples of the misinformation he gives when he deviates from Damen's documentary.

There are many historical events with which one might begin a brief history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. One could go back to the destruction of the Kingdom of Israel by the Assyrian Empire, or to the conquest of the Kingdom of Judah by the Babylonian Empire, or to the catastrophe of the destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem and the exiling of Jews from the Land of Israel to Babylon, or to the subsequent Jewish return to the Land of Israel and rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Second Temple, or to catastrophe of the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem by the Roman Empire, or to the destruction and exile that followed the initially successful Jewish Bar Kohkba revolt against Roman rule, or to the Muslim conquest of the Land of Israel/Palestine centuries later, or to the Crusades, or to the rise of the Zionist movement in the nineteenth century, or to World War I, or to World War II…

A rather unusual historical event to begin with, however, is Napoleon Bonaparte's siege of Acre. That is how Damen's narrator begins Al Nakba:

"Our story starts here in 1799, outside the walls of Acre in Ottoman-controlled Palestine. An army under Napoleon Bonaparte besieged the city, all part of a campaign to defeat the Ottomans and establish a French presence in the region. In search of allies, Napoleon issued a letter offering Palestine as a homeland to the Jews, under French protection."

Sommerlad begins his article the same way:

"The modern state of Israel was founded in May 1948 in the aftermath of the Holocaust and Second World War but the conflict that has raged between Israelis and...

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