Israel’s propaganda apparatus, Hasbara Central, must be delighted with a bizarre, convoluted article in today’s New York Times that used tortuous logic to:
* Dishonestly try to connect 2 recent terrorist attacks in Africa to Al-Qaeda, the organization once headed by Osama bin Laden
* In passing, try to tarnish genuine Palestinian grievances by saying that Al-Qaeda agrees with those grievances
* Somehow use the fake Al-Qaeda connection to endorse Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s efforts to improve Israel’s diplomatic standing in Africa
You have to read the Times article–which is bylined Dionne Searcey, David M. Halbfinger and Rukmini Callimachi, and datelined Dakar, Senegal– a couple of times to appreciate just how dishonest it is. Let’s start with actual facts: two different groups of gunmen in Africa, in Kenya and across the continent in Mali, carried out terrorist attacks last month. Plenty of experts could have explained how both groups emerged due to conditions in their own countries, but the Times never contacted them.
Instead, the paper noted that Al-Qaeda — which has no real presence in Africa — lauded both attacks. The Times relied on the SITE Intelligence Group, an organization in the Washington, D.C. beltway headed by an Israeli, Rita Katz, to quote Al-Qaeda:
We emphasize and appreciate the high efforts and beautiful words of all the vibrant jihadist work to prevent the Judaization of Palestine.
What’s important to note is that the Times nowhere provided a shred of evidence that Al-Qaeda actually helped plan or contribute to the two attacks in Africa. That didn’t stop the paper from spending a good half-dozen paragraphs quoting Ayman al-Zawahri, the current al-Qaeda leader, as he denounced Israeli policies in occupied Palestine, and also blasted the Trump administration for moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. The insinuation was clear: Palestinians and those who support them are on the same side as the evil men who killed 3000 Americans at the World Trade Center.
The article then abruptly pivoted to Netanyahu’s diplomatic offensive in Africa, which has had some success, most recently in Chad, where the Israeli prime minister visited last month to restore ties that had been broken in 1972. Israel’s overtures in Africa are definitely worth reporting about, although the fake Al-Qaeda connection is completely irrelevant.
Here’s a genuine angle to the Israel-Africa story that the Times could follow. If Israel wants to improve its ties to African people, as opposed to often unelected African leaders, it should use its own laws to prosecute a couple of criminal Israeli billionaires who have looted the mineral wealth in parts of the continent. Israeli authorities did question Beny Steinmetz, accused of illegal massive corruption in Guinea, but that inquiry seems to have died. And the notorious Dan Gertler continues to steal with impunity from the Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the poorest nations on earth.
Why doesn’t the Times direct its Israeli bureau to start digging into Steinmetz and Gertler, while its West and Central African reporters fan out and look at the consequences on the ground of the massive thefts? Instead of grafting together a transparent piece of pro-Israel propaganda?