Saturday, June 27, 2009


In June 2008 Antony Loewenstein linked to a press release from The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) condemning the "detention of Palestinian Journalist Mohammad Omer Mughir by Israeli Occupation Forces":
The young journalist returned to Gaza from the London ceremony and was subsequently seized and detained by the Israeli Military for several hours. During his detention he was assaulted, stripped, beaten, and interrogated about his trip to London and about the press award, which he received.
Sol Salbe, heretofore a Loewenstein ally and thus one of a select few commenters not subject to moderation, pointed out that the ANHRI report was incorrect:
Omer was set upon at the Aleenby Bridge while crossing the Allenby Bridge into the West Bank from Jordan. With the Rafah crossing closed someone with a permit need to travel via the West Bank into Israel and from there in to Gaza. If bloggers would like to be treated as journalists then fact-checking of obviously impossible assertions is not an option but a necessity.
Loewenstein remained silent, allowing a commenter to respond for him:
Sol, your invaluable work and insights are an important contribution to informed dialogue about Israel/Palestine and so you do yourself an disservice by choosing to score cheap points against Antony with such utterly trivial matters and inflating them to appear as if some major journalistic lapse is involved. This is unworthy and debases the serious issues at stake.
In short, the facts of a matter are unimportant when scoring points against Israel. The points scoring continuing with Loewenstein today again getting it wrong:
Back in June last year, Palestinian journalist Mohammed Omer was detained and tortured by Israel after returning to Gaza from London.
Loewenstein must know this is wrong: by all accounts Omer was taken into custody at the Allenby Bridge, which connects the West Bank and Jordan. This "seized from Gaza" nonsense -- such could have occurred only through an armed IDF incursion -- is meant to make Omer appear to be a high value target.

Also note that Loewenstein now claims Omer was "tortured". Exactly what happened during Omer's time in custody is far from certain, however. Mondoweiss, which links to Loewenstein's blog and occasionally hosts his posts, also claims Omer was tortured:
While there was some reporting of Omer's torture at the time (most notably this amazing piece by Gideon Levy - read it!) for the most part it was ignored, or misreported.
Here's what Levy wrote in 2008, immediately after Omer was detained:
Over the phone from his room in the hospital, he describes what happened; it is evident that he has been traumatized. The security people took apart all his belongings, asked where the prize money was, and couldn't understand why he was returning to Gaza. "Mohammed, are you crazy?" asked one. "Why did you leave Paris? Did you leave Paris to return to Gaza? You could have lived better in Paris. You are choosing to suffer." Omer replied that he has chosen to document suffering, not to suffer.

The searches and questioning lasted for hours; he was treated like every Palestinian, a suspicious object, unless proven otherwise. After Europe, which had showered him with a prize, honor and prestige, this was apparently particularly harrowing.

Then he was forced to strip. He agreed to take everything off except his underpants, but says the interrogator pulled them off by force, pressing a gun to his body. He will never forget that humiliation. He broke into tears, fell onto the floor, partly unconscious, and began to vomit. He says the security guards hurt him, putting a foot on his neck and sticking their hands under his eyes and behind his ears. "I felt like an African under apartheid," he explains. Afterward he asked his interrogator: "Why are you treating me like this?" The reply was: "Wait, you haven't seen anything yet." He says he was dragged on the floor of the terminal, while a female traveler shouted at the security guards: "Why are you doing that to him? Leave him alone!"

After hours of waiting, interrogation and delay, Omer finally found himself in a Palestinian ambulance that took him to the hospital in Jericho. After he calmed down somewhat he was taken in the Dutch embassy car to the Erez crossing and from there he arrived home late in the evening, exhausted and in shock. Two days later he felt ill and was rushed to the European Hospital, where he was kept for observation.


"I'm emotionally destroyed," [Omer] told me this week over the phone. "I have nightmares. I have never experienced such humiliation. They stripped me and made fun of me. Maybe it's so hard for me because I'm a person who is familiar with basic human rights. After all, if I weren't a Palestinian, if I had only had a different passport, they would never have done that to me.
One year later Omer's memory is enhanced:
After receiving the Martha Gellhorn prize I returned home through the Allenby Bridge Crossing in the Occupied West Bank between Jordan and Israel. It was here I was detained, interrogated, and tortured for several hours by Shin Bet and border officers. When it appeared I may be close to death an ambulance was called to transport me to a hospital. From that day my life has been a year of continued medical treatments, pain -- and a search for justice.
Omer has gone from "humiliated" at being "made fun of" to torture victim with Loewenstein jumping on the bandwagon with him. It's no wonder then that the MSM frequently turns to Loewenstein when in need of anti-Israel spin.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lowy and his cronys - utterly dishonest ideologically hateful wastes of oxygen. Full stop

6:47 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home