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Israel distorts timeline of events to play victim in the dangerous escalation with Iran and Syria

Media Analysis
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Distorting the timeline of events is a longtime Israeli strategy to make its enemies look like the aggressors and pass itself off as the victim. Israel’s massive aerial attacks earlier today on Iranians and Syrians — its most extensive cross-border strikes in decades — are carrying out this propaganda strategy to perfection, and even normally skeptical news outlets are being fooled.

Here’s the actual order of events:

* Just one hour after Donald Trump violated the Iran nuclear deal on May 8, Israel launched missiles against targets south of Damascus, Syria, reportedly killing 15 people, at least 8 of them Iranians.

* In response, Iran early this morning apparently struck back with 20 rockets aimed at the Golan Heights, (which is occupied by Israel since 1967 but is still legally part of Syria).

* Hours later, Israeli warplanes attacked dozens of allegedly Iranian targets in Syria.

The mainstream Western media is falling into Israel’s propaganda trap. Most reports are treating the Iranian rockets as the original provocation, and framing Israel’s massive air strikes as the (understandable) response. Unusually, the New York Times coverage was actually moderately less biased than other outlets, such as the Washington Post and the BBC. The Times at least noted — down in paragraph 12 — that Israel had first attacked Syria right after Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Iran deal.

Nor, so far, are the major media connecting Benjamin Netanyahu’s belligerence to his desperate need to distract from the multiple domestic corruption investigations against him and his wife — an angle some of the Israeli press is not too squeamish to bring up. In the excellent online publication, +972, Dahlia Scheindlin notes today that Netanyahu’s strategy is working; he “appears to have inoculated himself against looming corruption charges due to the dramatic developments on the security front.” She adds that the latest Israeli opinion polls show Netanyahu’s Likud party with its highest level of support in a decade.

Larry Derfner, the American-turned-Israeli who is one of that country’s most experienced reporters, is hammering away at the truth on his Facebook page:

I’ve been arguing all day against Israel’s policy of continually bombing Syria, Lebanon and Iran, pointing out that they’re not bombing us, we’re bombing them, which means we’re not acting in self defense, we’re the aggressors. . . For [people with the opposing opinion] it doesn’t matter how many times Israel bombs the enemy and the enemy doesn’t bomb back — Israel is still bombing in self-defense and the other side is still the aggressor. Why? Because Israel is Israel and Iran/Syria/Lebanon is Iran/Syria/Lebanon. Israel is right because it is good and they are wrong because they are bad. . .

James North

James North is a Mondoweiss Editor-at-Large, and has reported from Africa, Latin America, and Asia for four decades. He lives in New York City.

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35 Responses

  1. Bumblebye on May 10, 2018, 2:19 pm

    Syrian Arab Army put out its version of events:

    “A short summary of the chain of events that led to the current situation in the occupied-Golan Heights

    • Enemy air force fired a stand-off missile toward Damascus that was intercepted by Syrian Air Defenses

    • Enemy artillery targeted a Syrian military point in al-Quneitra which led to a return of fire from the Syrian Military across borde

    • Enemy brought a Merkava Tank which fired 6 random shots into al-Baa’th city in al-Quneitra

    • Syrian Tank Hunters fired back at the enemy’s Merkava with no reports on its status yet

    • Syrian Military responded by firing a barrage of missiles at Zionist military points inside the occupied-Golan”

  2. Ossinev on May 10, 2018, 3:41 pm

    “Unusually, the New York Times coverage was actually moderately less biased than other outlets, such as the Washington Post and the BBC. The Times at least noted — down in paragraph 12 — that Israel had first attacked Syria right after Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Iran deal”

    Times actually states:
    “Though Israel has hit Iranian forces in Syria with a number of deadly airstrikes, Tehran has been restrained in hitting back, until now. The rocket attack against Israel appeared to be in response to Israeli strikes on southern Syria on Wednesday.

    Hours later, Israel responded. By Thursday morning, the country’s air force had destroyed “nearly all” of Iran’s military infrastructure in Syria, according to Israel’s defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman”.

    Things are hotting up.

    Best advice for the US IMHO would be to withdraw any USS Intelligence Gathering vessels stationed anywhere in the Mediterranean. The Ziocolonial forces might mistake them for hostile cattle transport ships and tragically and accidentally attempt to sink them with all hands on board.

  3. DaBakr on May 10, 2018, 4:00 pm

    Of course north can’t accept the obvious. Even if his timeline is true it just makes the irg that much more stupid.

  4. atime forpeace on May 10, 2018, 4:03 pm

    “The mainstream Western media is falling into Israel’s propaganda trap”

    CAMERA has a ‘special relationship’ as they call it with the western media.

    The western media is not falling into Israel’s propaganda trap as you assert the western media jumped into the trap with both feet because it is who they are and how they operate.

    • on May 10, 2018, 6:01 pm

      Hear hear – ziomedia parrots Zionists – nothing new hear – no trap – more like support.

      It’s ridiculous to think otherwise given the blatant biases the MSM has in favour of Israel

      • DaBakr on May 11, 2018, 12:41 am


        You do realize that a substantial amount of zionists believe the msm is decidedly biased against Israel. I’ve seen countless examples posted by both the pro and anti Zionist as supposed’proof’.
        The NYT is a perfect example. they usually manage to piss off both camps equally. I used to think this was a positive reflection of the paper and still do appreciate the duality. I have turned against the times for other reasons but there is one thing I do know about the perceived bias of msm. You can’t both be correct without admitting to a locked down mediocre mindset. I read the outrageous op-ed on why Israel has no right to exist. But I can imagine to others printing Arabs have no legal ror (and I’m only assuming they did at some point) might come off as very similar.

        And then there is the Fox-MSNBC polarity. Imho, were they military, I’d have them both shot for idiocy. CNN just came unhinged after the buffoon won the presidency. Maybe they’ll recover some modicum of dignity.

      • John O on May 11, 2018, 12:24 pm

        @DaBakr ” I read the outrageous op-ed on why Israel has no right to exist. But I can imagine to others printing Arabs have no legal ror (and I’m only assuming they did at some point) might come off as very similar.”

        Never assume. Do some research, instead of making lazy assumptions.

      • DaBakr on May 11, 2018, 2:44 pm


        Use your imagination. I’m sure the times has printed many articles you consider outrageously anti Palestinian.

      • hungrydave on May 11, 2018, 6:14 pm

        Responding to Dabakr.
        I think the difference is that pro Israel zealots get furious about anything that’s even the tiniest bit critical of Israel, so they can’t see that the NYT is on their side.
        The usual tactic is to report everything in a positive way for Israel but way down the article have a sentence that defies this. Thus the NYT can claim balance and Israel supporters get angry with them which they then spin as if they’re in the middle between the two sides, which is of course nonsense to anyone with eyes.

      • DaBakr on May 12, 2018, 6:51 pm


        Oh. You “think” that’s the difference? Jews, zionists are built differently I guess. Naturally, Israeli supporters can’t identify a newspaper as having an anti Israel bias. It’s not like they are comparing the nyt to al Jazeera. I shouldn’t have to point out how many anti-zionist extremists there are. But they are so much more rational.

      • Mooser on May 12, 2018, 9:26 pm

        “I shouldn’t have to point out how many anti-zionist extremists there are.” “DaBakr”

        Yes, but isn’t it comforting to think that for every Jewish person who becomes an anti-Zionist activist, there are likely ten who simply stop (or never start) making monetary contributions and remove themselves from Zionist culture, and won’t have their children instructed in it? After all, you can count on that, not everybody is cut out to be an activist.

      • Kathleen on May 13, 2018, 8:52 pm

        Dabkr you do realize that committed zionist object to any fact based reporting about Israel’s theft of land, killing of innocents, theft of homes, Palestinian children being abused, destruction of olive trees, violations of UN resolutions, other international law. Zionist object to any kind of factual reporting having to do with Israel’s crimes. The strategy is always to deny, distort, divert and double back as the victim. Always the strategy.

        Where they are coming up short is what to do about or call famous Jews who are finally starting to take a stand based on the facts. Much more difficult to play this strategy.

        Although if Portman goes too far according to their boundaries hard to tell what they would resort to.

      • DaBakr on May 14, 2018, 11:08 pm


        You do realize that most Americans do not believe the palestinian hasbara? That most Americans accept the story of Israel’s birth as it unfolded from 48-present. Other then a small percentage, North Americans, South Americans, Africans and Indians do not accept the most radical of the palestinian/israeli revisionist history that paints Israel as an evil aggressor from day one. You are likely living in a bubble that isolates you from masses of ordinary, not right wing, folks who just don’t see things the way the so-called progressive left does. It’s the progressive and far left that can’t bare to be around anybody to the right of Hillary. I see it all the time in my NYC friends. They rant and rave about trump but the only conservatives they ever encounter are their ‘crazy doctor brother in law from Connecticut. They are cut off and feel elite and disgruntled

    • JLewisDickerson on May 11, 2018, 9:43 am

      RE: The mainstream Western media is falling into Israel’s propaganda trap. Most reports are treating the Iranian rockets as the original provocation, and framing Israel’s massive air strikes as the (understandable) response. ~ North

      MY COMMENT: Not all of them are innocently falling into Israel’s propaganda trap! In the following video notice how Jake Tapper parrots the propaganda of the very biased “UN Watch”. He knows very well what he is doing!

      ■ Jake Tapper’s WORST FAIL EVER As He Defends Trump On Jerusalem
      NSFW (contains some profanity towards the end)

      UN Watch
      From ~

      UN Watch, a Geneva-based group, was founded in 1993 to monitor the performance of the United Nations and with a stated mission of promoting human rights, but with an prime emphasis on the coverage of Israeli violations of human rights. It is an accredited non-governmental organization with the UN ECOSOC and has affiliate status with the UN DPI.

      It has been founded and funded by the American Jewish Committee since 2001. UN Watch led the largest NGO coalition at the UN Human Rights Council special session on Darfur in December 2006.

      ● Nexus to AJC
      Ian Williams, a journalist covering the UN for many years and former president of the United Nations Correspondents Association, summarizes UN Watch’s role:

      UN Watch is an organisation whose main purpose is to attack the United Nations in general, and its human rights council in particular, for alleged bias against Israel.[1]

      UN Watch has been funded by the American Jewish Committee since 2001. It claims to have ‘complete independence’ from the AJC.[2]

      However, a press release from its site notes that UN Watch is to become ‘fully integrated’ into the AJC. The release concludes:

      Eighteen months ago, the American Jewish Committee and the World Jewish Congress reached an agreement, approved by the international board of UN Watch, to transfer full control of the organization to AJC, an agreement that went into effect on January 1, 2001.[3]

      • JLewisDickerson on May 11, 2018, 9:57 am

        P.S. ALSO SEE:
        “CNN’s Iran Fearmongering Would Make More Sense Coming Directly From Pentagon”
        by Adam Johnson | Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) | May 10, 2018
        · Barbara Starr has a long, storied career of acting—in effect if not in name—as a Department of Defense spokesperson

        [EXCERPT] Why doesn’t CNN Defense Department reporter Barbara Starr just leave CNN and instead work directly for the Trump DoD?

        On Tuesday, hours after President Donald Trump pulled out of the Iran deal (formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), Starr (5/8/18) rushed to publish an anonymously sourced and transparently propagandistic press release for the Trump administration and Pentagon. Wouldn’t it be easier if Starr just skipped the middleman and just worked for the DoD?

        In her 513-word piece, “US Officials Growing Increasingly Concerned Iran Could Attack Israel,” Starr mindlessly repeated “concerns” by unnamed US Department of Defense and Israeli Defense Force officials that Iran might directly attack Israel and/or Israeli positions in occupied Syria—something that has never happened in recorded history . . .

        CONTINUED AT ➤

      • JLewisDickerson on May 11, 2018, 10:35 am

        P.P.S. ALSO SEE:
        “The Israeli Government Role in Promoting Islamophobia Internationally”
        by Paul Larudee / / May 9th, 2018

        LINK ➤

      • Kathleen on May 13, 2018, 9:09 pm

        Nikki Haley sounds like a mafia thug “we will remember”

        Jake Tapper demonstrated he is an Israeli firster hack. How manipulative and deceitful

      • JLewisDickerson on May 18, 2018, 11:16 am

        P.P.P.S. CNN Taps Out with Max Blumenthal

    • zaid on May 15, 2018, 12:35 am


      Evidence for your claims please

  5. Walker on May 10, 2018, 4:44 pm

    Mr North, what are these “normally skeptical news outlets”?

  6. CHUCKMAN on May 10, 2018, 4:49 pm

    This stuff is all so painfully sad.

    Contemporary Israel seems to do nothing but incite violence and destruction everywhere it turns.

    And it incites the same violence from its American protector and source of endless subsidy.

    I do think this all one of the saddest tales of our time.

    The men leading Israel learned nothing from the experience of their fathers and grandfathers in Germany except how to be as brutal and vicious as those earlier abusers.

    My God, this is the most destructive country on earth when you include what it has induced the United states to do for it too.

    Poor, poor Syria, a beautiful land torn apart by mercenary thugs posing as some kind of jihadis. Half a million killed. Beautiful things destroyed.

    All paid for, supplied, and supported by America, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Britain, and France. Originally, Turkey too.

    But, no, that isn’t enough. There has to be more violence piled on top because it looks like Assad might well survive. And we sure can’t be having any independent-minded leaders in the region who fail to toe the American-Israeli line.

    So this. And so Americans and Frenchmen breaking all international law putting forces in the Kurdish region.

    They want Syria to resemble what was done in Libya for the same reasons. A decent leader for his people who kept them out of war and gave them education and good water and a whole lot else had to be bombed and shot in the head.

    Israel loves to mouth that line about only democracy in the region, but in fact it hates dealing with democracies, whether it was Egypt or Hamas. It loves dictators like el-Sisi and Mubarak and Bloody Prince Salman and the King of Jordan. God, what a fraud.

    • Marnie on May 11, 2018, 12:46 am

      Which explains why israhell has no better partner in its love of dictators and hatred of democracies than the united states.

    • DaBakr on May 11, 2018, 12:50 am

      So, Israel brought all that down on Syria when for years before the Arab spring the northern Syrian border was quiet and nobody was dying or being displaced or gassed. Iran’s proxy in southern Lebanon started some trouble but had strict limitations on not involving Syria. Now, Iran has Assad up their rectums for protection and he can’t dictate to the IRG to not fuck with the Zionist entity and his former nation.
      . Btw: your theories on what Israel “wants” for Syria are so ridiculous. You have no clue what Israel wants except the optimal: peaceful border, peaceful neighbor then negotiate a treaty on the Golan. Otherwise Israelis don’t agree on anything about Syria except that am Iranian military presence on the border with Syria is not acceptable. If you choose to believe that is warmongering then have at it.

      • John O on May 11, 2018, 8:36 am

        “… negotiate a treaty on the Golan.”

        Israel annexed the Golan in 1981 (not recognised by the rest of the world). What is there to negotiate, other than its return to Syria?

      • CigarGod on May 11, 2018, 10:05 am

        Oh, maybe gas and oil reserves….

      • Misterioso on May 11, 2018, 12:29 pm


        “…what Israel wants except the optimal: peaceful border, peaceful neighbor then negotiate a treaty on the Golan.”

        Bullcrap!! No negotiation required. The Golan Heights belong to Syria!!!

        On 17 December 1981, the UNSC unanimously passed Resolution 497, which declared Israel’s 14 December 1981 annexation of Syria’s Golan Heights “null and void.”

      • DaBakr on May 12, 2018, 7:06 pm

        There exist these things called incremental treaties. Anything is possible

  7. Kay24 on May 10, 2018, 5:58 pm

    Nutty has stated that Iran has crossed that “Red Line” therefore justifying Israel’s violence, it seems he has conveniently forgotten how Mossad crossed over that Red Line, and went into Dubai to kill a Palestinian official, and how they went into Iran and killed Iranian citizens mostly Scientists. Do the zionists have a vision problem when it comes to someone else’s red line?
    How come Israel does not recognize, or see, Red Lines when they attack or kill? Entitlement?

    Iran has every right to defend itself too, after all just like American leaders keep saying that when Israel kills Palestinians, Iranians and Palestinians are also entitled to “defend” themselves any way they can.

    The zionists are so arrogant that they think occupying, stealing lands, killing unarmed civilians, bombing UN shelters, stealing water, and olive trees, and all other crimes, is their God given right.

  8. WebSkipper on May 11, 2018, 9:00 am

    It’s outrageous. Watching David Muir on ABC yesterday evening, the gist of his coverage was that Iran attacked Israel because Trump pulled out of the JCPOA. I pretty much came unglued. I simply cannot tolerate MSM news coverage. Truth to tell, I only watch one MSM news program at 5:30, for the sole reason of seeing how things are reported in the U.S. It’s beyond pathetic. Ed Bernays must be having eternal multiple orgasms.

    • on May 11, 2018, 7:06 pm

      It is maddening – thankfully more and more people think so as well

      • DaBakr on May 12, 2018, 7:34 pm

        Don’t blame Israel for ABC’s idiotic and wrong reporting. We knew an attack was imminent after we attacked the t4 IRG controlled base well before trumps pullout. If your looking for insight, the US msm is not the place to watch. Iran was itching for revenge and IRG was itching to test the Zionist response as their flush with cash from Obama’s ‘best bad deal’. Muir will also not be reporting that Iran is restocking its missile supply as quickly as possible. It’s just a set back as far as the mullahs grand plan is concerned.

  9. Marnie on May 11, 2018, 9:41 am

    News in Brief

    Netanyahu Begins Calling For Israeli Return To Ancient Homeland Of Iran

    Yesterday 12:26pm
    JERUSALEM—Declaring that it was long past time for his people to live once again on their ancestral soil, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly began calling Thursday for the Israeli return to their ancient homeland of Iran. “The land of Iran has long been part of our heritage, and we implore the international community to work with us to ensure its return to the independent Jewish state,” said Netanyahu, adding that Israel was willing to use military force if necessary to reoccupy all 636,400 square miles of present-day Iran that were historically included in the promised land bestowed upon the Jewish people by biblical mandate. “The so-called Islamic cities of Tehran, Mashhad, Isfahan, and dozens of others were founded on what were once ancient Jewish kingdoms, not to mention how many of our most sacred sites Iran currently occupies, including the Imam Reza Holy Shrine, the Jamkaran Mosque, and the Zoroastrian Fire Temple of Chak-Chak. In fact, Iran is home to the highest concentration of Judaic ancient holy sites anywhere in the world outside of Mecca, Lumbini, and Vatican City. We demand that the Jewish people be permitted to return to ruling our ancestral Persian homelands.” At press time, Netanyahu had approved plans to begin construction on a large Israeli settlement in downtown Tehran.”

  10. Marnie on May 11, 2018, 9:44 am

    News in Brief

    Syrian Man Kept Up All Night By Neighbors Dying

    Yesterday 2:11pm
    •SEE MORE: Syria

    DAMASCUS – Expressing frustration with the constant clamor coming from nearby apartments, Syrian man Sayid Madanly was reportedly kept up all night Wednesday by the sounds of his neighbors dying. “God, I wasn’t able to get any sleep because they’re upstairs just moaning and screaming in the middle of the night,” said Madanly, adding that the walls were so thin that he could clearly hear every shallow breath and cry of the couple next door as they reached the final throes of life. “It’s so annoying. Just shut up and die already. It’s one thing to loudly expire during the day, but after midnight, show some common courtesy for people who have to get up early for work. At least I’ve been respecting my neighbors by keeping my dying newborn quiet.” At press time, Madanly was working up the courage to walk upstairs and put the neighbors out of their misery.

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