When Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, a prominent defender of Israel, recently vowed to take on the self-described progressive watchdog group Media Matters, he singled out the group’s senior foreign policy fellow MJ Rosenberg for his particularly vitriolic attacks against Israel and its supporters.
Rushing to Rosenberg’s defense, one of his old friends argued that Rosenberg was really an “Israel-Lover” who was unfairly criticized because he was simply continuing “what he’s done for 43 years, mounting the barricades for the Jewish cause of a safe, peaceful Israel and damn what others think. The ground around him has moved, but he hasn’t.”
However, it wouldn’t be hard to collect innumerable examples of Rosenberg rhetoric that cannot be spun as in any way promoting the “Jewish cause of a safe, peaceful Israel.” By coincidence, I came across just one example today that can only be explained by a deep animus against Israel.
Yesterday afternoon, Ha’aretz published an AP report on the death of a baby in Gaza. According to the report, the baby needed a respirator which, due to a fuel shortage, had to be powered by a generator that, by mistake, ran out of fuel overnight. Most of the report was devoted to explaining the fuel shortage:
“The power shortage has been caused by a cut-off of Egyptian fuel.
A shipment of 450,000 liters of gasoline and diesel fuel purchased by the Palestinian Authority was sent into the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom border crossing on Friday, after Israel agreed to permit the transfer.
Over a year ago, Hamas ceased importing fuel from Israel.
The shipment is meant to provide temporary relief for the fuel shortage in the Gaza strip, which started after Egypt cut off all shipments of fuel to Gaza. Senior Hamas officials blamed the Egyptian intelligence services, claiming that they were behind cutting off fuel to Gaza, in order to force the Hamas government into an agreement with Fatah.
Over the past year, Hamas has been smuggling fuel into Gaza at reduced prices through underground tunnels. The shortage began last month as fuel supplies smuggled from Egypt began to dry up. The Palestinian Authority paid full price for the shipment to be delivered on Friday, in order to help ease the current fuel crisis, which has forced Gaza’s 1.7 million to endure widespread blackouts.”
Yet, this is what MJ Rosenberg tweeted:
It is notable that Rosenberg did not provide the link to the Ha’aretz report. But clearly, there was nothing in the report that could explain his claim that the baby died “due to Israeli electricity shut down” – this was something he simply made up.
But there is another twist to the story, because, as documented by Camera, AP soon realized that the baby had apparently died already in early March and that “Hamas was now trying to recycle the story to capitalize on the family’s tragedy.”
According to AP, the changed timing of the baby’s death would allow Hamas to “highlight the human cost Gaza’s 1.6 million residents are paying for 18-hour-a-day blackouts, triggered by a cutoff of Egyptian fuel.”
In other words, the Palestinian propaganda methods that have been so often used against Israel are now used against Egypt. But Hamas will find out that when the Jewish state is to blame, the media and so-called pro-Palestinian activists will be infinitely more interested than when Egypt is the target.
Maybe Rosenberg’s mistake simply reflects a Pavlovian response: if a Ha’aretzheadline announces the death of a baby in Gaza, there is no need to read on: it must be Israel’s fault. It’s unlikely that this is the first time he has operated under this assumption: Israel is guilty until proven otherwise.