Vice News is now carrying water for the Israeli army.
The the self-proclaimed “news organization for a connected generation” published a report yesterday from what is claimed to be a “leaked” Israeli military document into the investigation of Elor Azarya, the soldier-medic who summarily executed Palestinian man Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sharif in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron last month.
The report lists the main claims of the document:
* The soldier said before the shooting that the subdued Palestinian “needs to die.”
* After the shooting, he told a commander: “He’s a terrorist, he needs to die.”
* The soldier “changed his version [of events] in the different investigations,” according to one investigator, telling a commander: “I shot because I felt there was a threat to life.”
* The incident “severely hurts the IDF and Israel’s image.”
None of this is new or exclusive information – it’s actually a regurgitation of the official Israeli government line disseminated shortly after the video of the execution went viral, and part of an effort to portray the killer as a bad apple, rather than a soldier following orders.
Three days after the killing, the finding of the army’s investigation that the soldier said “the terrorist needs to die” was reported across media outlets.
From Ha’aretz’s report:
Details from the investigation revealed that he told his fellow soldiers that “the terrorist needs to die” after the Palestinian stabbed one of the soldiers – a friend of the accused gunman.
The only new claim from the report is that Azarya’s was “driven by a ‘twisted ideology.’”
But the soldier’s father, Charlie Azarya, described his son as a model soldier who had “acted as he had been taught,” “wanted to save Israel” and was “honored as outstanding in 2015.”
It appears that the “twisted ideology” that drove Azarya to execute Al-Sharif was Zionism.
Beyond acting as a military stenographer, Vice News’ report sanitizes the Israeli public’s outpouring of support for Azarya, writing that the execution “polarized Israeli society and triggered a national debate.” The report fails to mention that an overwhelming majority of Israelis support Azarya, and makes no mention of the public displays of support for the soldier, culminating in several thousand strong “Death to Arabs!” rally in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square last week.
It also fails to mention the statements of support for summary executions from several top figures across the political-military echelon and state-funded religious authorities.
Though the Israeli government and military have a well-oiled machine for disseminating hasbara (Hebrew word that in practical terms means propaganda) which typically informs the discourse presented in the mainstream, enlisting a major North American media outlet is a significant victory for Israel, and a clear sign of Vice News’ willingness to sacrifice journalistic ethics for access.
Perhaps the next time Israel bombs Gaza, Vice News will publish an “exclusive leak” of the infamous terror fortress cartoons of Shujaiya.