Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘fake news

No trace of chemical weapons at alleged attack site in Douma – Russian military

The Russian military has found no trace of chemical weapons use after searching parts of Syria’s Douma allegedly targeted by an “attack.”
Photos of victims posted by the White Helmets are fake, Russia’s Defense Ministry said.
(White Helmets are trained to fabricate fake videos. They only show children, but never Islamic factions fighters as injured or attacked by anything)

Experts in radiological, chemical and biological warfare, as well as medics, on Monday inspected the parts of the Eastern Ghouta city of Douma, where an alleged chemical attack supposedly took place on Saturday, the Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria said in a statement.

The specialists “found no traces of the use of chemical agents” after searching the sites, the statement said. The center’s medical specialists also visited a local hospital but found no patients that showed signs of chemical weapons poisoning.

“All these facts show… that no chemical weapons were used in the town of Douma, as it was claimed by the White Helmets,” the statement said, referring to the controversial “civil defense” group that was among the first to report about the alleged attack.

“All the accusations brought by the White Helmets, as well as their photos… allegedly showing the victims of the chemical attack, are nothing more than a yet another piece of fake news and an attempt to disrupt the ceasefire, the Reconciliation Center said.

On Saturday, some rebel-linked groups, including the White Helmets, accused the Syrian government of carrying out a chemical attack that, allegedly, affected dozens of civilians in the Eastern Ghouta town of Douma.

The reports have already provoked a wave of outrage in the West, as the US and the EU rushed to put the blame for the incident on Damascus and Moscow. US President Donald Trump hastily denounced the perceived attack as a “mindless” atrocity and a “humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever,” warning of a “big price” to be paid.

Syria and Russia have dismissed the accusations and called the reports fake news, aimed at helping the extremists and at justifying potential strikes against Syrian forces.

In the very early hours of Monday, Israeli fighter jets targeted Syria’s T-4 airbase in Homs province, violating Lebanon air space in and out, (at the instigation of Trump) the Russian Defense Ministry said. Israel has not commented on the strike.

Earlier, a number of Israeli officials had called on the US to strike Syria as a response to the reported chemical attack. (Israel is wary to carring out other attacks on Syria)

Trump has promised to decide on potential actions against Syria within 24-48 hours, adding that nothing is “off the table”  (and followed with another tweet backtracking. Germany and Italy will Not participate in that attack. Macron of France is toning down his threats)

Earlier, US Defense Secretary James Mattis said that the US did not rule out a potential military action against Damascus. But he cannot predict the reactions of Putin for any further escalation.

The White Helmets (trained to fabricate videos) claim to be volunteer first-responders saving Syrians caught up in the fighting. They gained traction in the western media and rose to prominence during the Battle of Aleppo in 2016, while working exclusively in the militant-controlled areas of the city and becoming one of the most widely used sources of information and visual materials in the West. (Paid by the colonial powers that want to dismember Syria)

The people on the ground in Aleppo, however, told RT’s Murad Gazdiev that the White Helmets were working closely with the militants and saving only “their own.”

Local witnesses also accused the “activists” of looting the humanitarian aid that was coming into the city and of forcing the locals to read fake anti-government statements on camera, in return for food.

Assaad Zakka shared a link23 hrs · 

‘Fake News!’: The View from Israel’s Occupation

Rebecca Stein. Feb 19, 2018

Among the numerous ideological affinities and governing styles shared by Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a commitment to the rhetoric of ‘fake news.’

In the last year, Netanyahu has increasingly borrowed this Trump formulation in an attempt to quell dissent and undercut critical Israeli and international media scrutiny.

Netanyahu is not unique in this regard. Over the course of the last year, authoritarian regimes across the globe – including Syria, Russia and Malaysia – have adopted the fake news script to silence detractors and critics, frequently in response to the charge of human rights violations.

But while the global scale of this accusation may be unprecedented, charges of fake news have a long history, considerably preceding the Trump era.

In Israel, the accusation of fraudulence, employed against political critics and foes, can be traced to the onset of the Zionist settler-national project.

As post-colonial studies show, the repudiation of indigenous claims (to history, land, humanity and so on) was a foundational logic of colonial projects, enabling the violence of colonialism in its various forms.

This formulation was also at work in the history of Zionism and has had a lasting hold on dominant Israeli ideology.

Over the course of the last two decades, amidst the ascendance of nationalist extremism in Israel, the fraudulence charge has grown ever stronger among the Jewish right-wing public as a popular means of indicting critics and undercutting Palestinian claims, particularly where Israel’s military occupation is concerned.

Mohammed al-Dura

Video footage of Israeli state violence against Palestinians has been a favorite target of this accusation – footage shot by international journalists and human rights workers and increasingly, as cameras have proliferated in the West Bank, by the cameras of Palestinians living under occupation.

It was in the language of fake news that Israelis famously responded to the killing of 12-year-old Mohammad al-Dura by the Israeli security services in 2000, in the early days of the second Intifada.[1]

His killing was filmed by French television and was replayed around the world in the aftermath of the event, becoming no less than a viral global icon of the Israeli military. What ensued was an organized campaign by the Israeli right wing, and their international supporters, to debunk the images as fake.

Netanyahu convened an Israeli government committee of inquiry in 2012 to investigate the incident, and the committee eventually endorsed the popular discourse of fakery, blaming manipulative editing for falsely producing the damning images.

The state committee did more than exonerate the Israeli security services in al-Dura’s death; indeed, they argued that he was Not actually dead.

Right-wing Israeli newspapers put it succinctly in their headlines: “Mohammed al-Dura: The Boy Who Wasn’t Really Killed.” Pleas by the al-Dura family to exhume the boy’s body were declined.

The state committee did more than exonerate the Israeli security services in al-Dura’s death; indeed, they argued that he was not actually dead.

Despite the Israeli response to the al-Dura affair in 2000, it would take nearly two decades for this argument about Palestinian fakery to become commonplace where video evidence of Israeli state violence is concerned.

By 2014, amidst the ascendance of far-right politics in Israel, and the threatening spread of cameras among Palestinians living under occupation, the argument finally gained a mainstream foothold.

Footage from Bitunya

For example, the charge of fake news would predominate in Israel following the killing of 2 Palestinian youths in the West Bank town of Bitunya in 2014, fatally shot by the Israeli security services during an annual demonstration commemorating the Nakba.

The military denied responsibility, claiming that their forces had only used non-lethal rubber bullets that day, in compliance with regulations governing engagement in protest contexts.[2] But the scene had been filmed by numerous on-site cameras, including four security cameras, and those of CNN and a Palestinian photojournalist.

The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem took on the case, believing that the unusually high volume of associated footage conclusively established military responsibility for the deaths.

But mainstream Israelis felt differently, and the volume of footage from Bitunya did little to persuade them of the military’s responsibility. To the contrary, the videographic evidence fueled a widespread repudiation campaign.

State actors and institutions were among the first to join the fake news chorus, including the defense minister, the foreign minister and official military spokesmen.

All argued that “the film was edited and d[id] not reflect the reality of the day in question.”

Their assertions were parroted by the national media, who insisted that the shootings were “staged and faked.” That accusation was then picked up by right-wing Israelis and supporters internationally.

Some focused on the image of the falling body, arguing for its self-evident theatricality (yet another case of what some called “Pallywood” – the purported Palestinian Hollywood-like industry in manufactured images of Palestinian victims).

Others claimed there was a lack of adequate blood in the footage, proof that the victim had not been killed. Most proponents of the fraudulence charge did not dispute the deaths themselves, as they had in the al-Dura case, but focused on exonerating the IDF through a re-reading of the footage, arguing that the bullets had come from other sources.

The charge of fraudulence haunted the case as it wound its way through the Israeli legal system. The Bitunya case established the fake news charge as a default Israeli script for responding to video-graphic evidence of state violence against Palestinians.

A few months hence, during another violent Israeli military incursion into the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Netanyahu would famously rehearse a variant of this discourse when he accused people in Gaza of performing their deaths for the media: “They want to pile up as many civilian dead as they can. They use telegenically dead Palestinians for their cause.”

The language of “fake news” had moved from the margins of the conspiratorial blogosphere to become the language of state – presaging a dynamic that we would watch unfold in the US in the Trump era, a few years hence.

High Stakes

For Israelis who support the fake news accusation, the stakes are considerable – just as they are in Trump’s America for those who parrot this rhetoric. In the Israeli context, these accusations aim to protect the image of Israel by stripping Palestinian victims and Israeli perpetrators from the videographic scene of the alleged crime – and to do so in a way that removes all traces of repressive Israeli military rule and its histories.

The charges of fraudulence, forgery or Palestinian theatrics are an attempt to correct the record, to right the wrongs done by a libelous Palestinian public that is intent on Israel’s defamation by means of fictive image-making – or so many believe.

In this way, the discourse of fake news is just another tool in the Israeli struggle against the so-called existential threat.

[This article was originally published in Middle East Report (Issue 283).]


[1] Adi Kuntsman and I explore this in more detail here.

[2] For a more detailed discussion of this case, see Stein, “GoPro Occupation: Networked Cameras, Israeli Military Rule, and the Digital Promise,” Current Anthropology 58/S15 (February 2017).

Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales exits Guardian board over conflict of interest with Wikitribune news site

Jimmy Wales, the co-founder of Wikipedia, will leave the board of the Guardian newspaper after opting to launch his own rival news operation that will compete for staff, stories and donations.

Jimmy Wales

Jimmy Wales co-founded Wikipedia

The 50-year-old, who joined the board of Guardian Media Group as a non-executive director little over a year ago, has revealed plans to launch Wikitribune, an outlet aiming to provide “factual and neutral” news coverage.

Mr Wales has said he plans to hire up to 20 journalists to work on the operation.

Wikitribune will be funded by donations, putting it in direct competition with the Guardian, which frequently appeals to online readers for voluntary contributions in lieu of digital subscriptions.

He said: “Jimmy Wales will be stepping down from the GMG board by mutual agreement, given the potential for overlap in our work. We wish him well with the new project.”

Mr Wales has seized on concern around “fake news” online to promote Wikitribune, arguing “the news is broken and we can fix it“.

Guardian Media Group’s spokesman said: “We welcome all efforts to combat the rise of fake news. Our rapid growth in traffic and Guardian membership show that the demand for independent, trusted and high-quality journalism is greater than ever. ”

The left-leaning title is seeking to boost membership and donation revenues in light of a tough advertising market.

Online revenues have not risen quickly enough to make up for declining print sales, with the bulk of market growth taken up by Google and Facebook.

A spokesman for Guardian Media Group said Mr Wales’s plans meant he could no longer sit on the newspaper’s board.

<img src=”/content/dam/business/2016/07/28/55256363-guardian-business-small_trans_NvBQzQNjv4BqQJoTHvv9hWAiaCwwE8274uaCTQGAUkDgq8I833FLrys.jpg” alt=”Guardian” width=”301″ height=”189″ class=”responsive-image–fallback”/> Guardian
The Guardian is seeking to boost membership and donation revenues

The Guardian was on track to burn £90m in cash last year and has warned staff to expect further redundancies as it seeks to reach break-even in two years.

Mr Wales said: “I am a huge admirer of the Guardian and am honoured to have been involved as a member of the GMG board. I will continue to be an avid fan of their integrity for news and journalism.”

He has said he will take a hands-on role in his latest venture and remains chairman of The People’s Operator, a mobile service provider that gives a shares of its revenues to good causes.

It floated on AIM on a £100m valuation in 2014 but has struggled to build its subscriber base and now has a market capitalisation of less than £11m.


adonis49

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October 2020
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