Did Israeli soldiers arrest Palestinian youths recently for the “crime” of picking flowers and vegetables located on a Jewish outpost in the West Bank?That’s exactly the story being propagated by the Associated Press (AP) in a piece based entirely on a video and statement supplied by the provocative NGO [Non-governmental organization] B’Tselem.
The AP article, which was republished in major outlets such as ABC News, suggested: “Israeli troops detained five Palestinian children for several hours after they were confronted by Jewish settlers while gathering wild artichokes near a settlement outpost.”
The story was also written up by other sites such as Business Insider and NBC News.
Even before the piece was published in the media, the Independent’s Middle East correspondent, Bel Trew, wrote in a Twitter thread on Wednesday that, “Israel arrested 5 Palestinian children aged 7-11… after they were picking flowers near a settlement in the occupied West Bank according to rights groups.”
The claims, too, are based entirely on anecdotal and partial evidence provided by B’Tselem. [The group] B’Tselem encourages and incites Palestinians, including children, to attack Israelis, both soldiers and civilians, in the hope that thereby an “incident” can be created where only the Israelis responding to the attacks, and not the attacks themselves, can be recorded. There are many accounts by soldiers wounded in such attacks that B’Tselem activists had encouraged…
B’Tselem is a notorious group of far-left Israelis determined to undermine the Jewish state. It is not a “leading proponent of human rights” any more than CAIR is a “civil rights organization” (which is what it calls itself). B’Tselem never reports on Palestinian attacks on Jews; it never reports on violence by Arab men on Arab women; it does not report on Arab-on-Arab crime; it does not report on the plight of Christian Arabs who are threatened by Muslims in Bethlehem and Nazareth.
B’Tselem refuses to report on anything that might make the Palestinians look bad or the Israelis look good. It does not report, for example, on Israeli doctors treating for free Arab patients from Gaza, the PA-ruled parts of the West Bank, and even Syria. Israeli doctors have treated many of the medically most difficult cases that Palestinian patients present; Israelis have performed surgeries on thousands of Arabs for free; pediatric cardiology is a challenging medical specialty in which Israel especially excels, and its “Israel-Heart-For-Peace” program has provided care for many hundreds. All this of no interest to B’Tselem.
It was from the discredited B’Tselem that the original charge came that Israeli solders had “arrested” Palestinian children who had only been “picking flowers.” B’Tselem was the only source relied on by Bel Trew, the Middle East correspondent for the British newspaper The Independent, who wrote in a Twitter thread on Wednesday that “Israel arrested 5 Palestinian children aged 7-11… after they were picking flowers near a settlement in the occupied West Bank according to rights groups.”
The AP might have reported the story more truthfully thus: “Five Palestinian boys, aged 8 to 13, were detained for trespassing on a farmyard at X, a Jewish outpost, where they were found next to a parrot’s cage. They were taken to a police station for several hours, and then, it having been determined that their intentions were innocent, returned to their parents.”
It’s a very little story, about a very small event. Yet it was worth Emanuel Miller’s while to expose this tiny travesty. These small events of malevolent misreporting add up, and help to create anti-Israel attitudes that honest reporting would have prevented.