As this report documents, HuffPost not only decided to continue its egregious double-standards when it comes to Israel and Jews, it made decisions that amounted to journalistically spitting in the eye of the IDF officer, Israel and Jews everywhere --- while effectively letting Lebanon and Hezbollah completely off the hook for this atrocity.
If you come to share our outrage over how HuffPost handled this story, and its pervasive anti-Israel bias in general, please see the Action Items at the end of this report, for things you can do to help make a difference.
On August 3, 2010, Lt. Col. Dov Harari, a highly-regarded veteran of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) and father of four, was ambushed and murdered by the Lebanon Armed Forces (LAF), with suspected involvement by Hezbollah.
Harari's death was originally misreported as the result of an IDF incursion into Lebanese territory, to trim a tree, which resulted in a cross-border firefight. Soon thereafter, it was discovered that both Harari and the tree were on Israel's side of the border, and that the IDF had scheduled this activity well in advance with U.N. and Lebanese authorities.
As this trimming was being performed, an LAF sniper, 600 meters away on Lebanese soil, delivered a single shot to Harari's forehead, killing him instantly.
An LAF general later openly admitted that he gave the sniper the order to fire. Lebanon's prime minister then issued a statement, standing by his general --- and threatening more violence against Israel. The IDF replied by announcing that any further Lebanese violence would be met with a swift, punishing response. Hezbollah, suspected of orchestrating the ambush, celebrated Harari's murder as a "heroic confrontation," then threatened to "cut off the arm" of Lebanon's enemies.
The graphic below depicts the (actual) location of the tree in question, and of the IDF and LAF (click to enlarge):
In normal circumstances, Lebanon's actions would be considered an act of war --- especially in the larger context of:
- The fact that in direct violation of U.N. Resolution 1701, Lebanon and the U.N. have allowed Hezbollah to re-arm with weapons from Iran, and to construct an estimated 160 munitions bunkers in southern Lebanon
- The fact that Hezbollah continues to openly threaten to annihilate Israel --- while the U.N. remains silent
- Hezbollah's ongoing threats to exterminate Jews*, and recent boasts that its 40,000 advanced rockets can reach every inch of Israeli soil (* "If [Jews] all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide," Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Hezbollah, October 23, 2002, Lebanon Daily Star)
- The fact that Hezbollah provoked its 2006 war with Israel by kidnapping and murdering IDF soldiers at this same border --- which is why the IDF was trimming this tree, to ensure it can't be used as camouflage
Add it all up, you have all the makings of an eminently-justified preventive military strike at southern Lebanon by the IDF. In normal circumstances, that is.
But no aspect of Israel's existence can be considered remotely "normal." No matter how desperately it tries to achieve and maintain peaceful relations with its neighbors, no matter how many concessions it makes towards this goal, and no matter how carefully it acts to protect civilians on both sides when forced to defend itself, Israel is depicted as a malevolent, Nazi-like entity that is invariably in the wrong, by powerful elements of the world media and influential activist groups. Its attackers' initiation of violence, however, and their provocations are ignored, whitewashed, or even justified by these same parties.
As HUFF-WATCH has documented in meticulous detail, HuffPost --- now the #1 most-read blog in the world, a top-ten U.S. "news" site --- has a long history of participating in this "anti-Israel propaganda jihad," by:
- Inciting hatred against Israel, by prominently posting inflammatory allegations* against the Jewish state, and particularly the IDF --- then failing to post, or burying new information that proves Israel's innocence (*which Ms. Huffington claims HuffPost prohibits, and doesn't publish)
- Deciding to publish user comments containing anti-Semitic hate, libels and conspiracy theories, often submitted in direct response to this incitement --- even though it explicitly claims it prohibits such comments, and won't publish them --- and even protecting users who submit them, while banning others who object (1, 2, 3)
- Whitewashing and ignoring the savage acts of, and statements by militant Islamists
- Selecting and cropping pictures of Palestinians and Ahmadinejad that depict them in the most favorable light, while doing the exact opposite to Netanyahu, the IDF and other Jews
See a major report on these issues here, and an extensive archive of documentation of such incidents here.
The opportunity HuffPost had, to break free of its anti-Israel past, and treat this story with the care and attention it clearly merited
Given the shocking details of LtC Harari's assassination, HuffPost had an opportunity to play this story "straight," and start living up to Ms. Huffington's repeated public claims that it is "nonpartisan" in its news coverage, and dedicated to "ferret[ing] out the truth, consequences be damned." It had a chance to actually present and publicize the truth --- as it evolved --- of an important story involving the Middle East; of the barbarity of Lebanon's actions; of LtC Harari's assassination; and of how easily it could have set these two nations ablaze in violence, were it not for Israel's restraint.
HuffPost had the opportunity to begin applying the same follow-through to this story that it does to ones in which Israel is accused of wrongdoing. Examples include:
- When a top Hamas murderer was killed in Dubai earlier this year, HuffPost placed the story on its front page, and ran a misleading headline and "teasers" that falsely implicated Israel. When even Hamas and other parties began indicating that Israel was not at fault, however, HuffPost removed the original story from its front page, and briefly placed the new one mid-way down on a secondary page, beyond the visibility of front-page visitors. Summary by Powerline here; documented here.
- When Israel was falsely accused of "murdering" 9 "peace activists" in a "botched raid" on the Mavi Marmara "flotilla" a few months ago, HuffPost ran the story in screaming red letters for several days, at the top of its front page. But when the truth emerged --- that these "peace activists" were actually militant Islamists, that they ambushed and attempted to murder IDF soldiers, who returned fire to save their lives --- HuffPost replaced the headline with something of slightly less significance, and did not update it to include these facts. Documented here. (HuffPost did, however, choose to publish more vicious libels against Israel - including from one of its own "reporters" here, here.)
HuffPost had a chance to present the heart-wrenching "human interest" side of LtC Harari's story. According to his colleagues and family, LtC Harari was not your run-of-the-mill man, or soldier. His family, loved ones and colleagues describe him as having been extraordinarily kind, loving, charitable and professional. He had been scheduled to retire from the IDF, but chose to continue serving in his reserve capacity.
(At left: HuffPost's full-bore, original tribute to Furkan Doğan --- whose family took him to Turkey at age two, but HuffPost referred to as an "American" --- was one of the "peace activists" killed on the Gaza terror flotilla. Note: Doğan claimed --- in the hours before the ambush of the IDF --- that his objective was to become "a martyr," a claim also made by militant Islamists on the ship. HuffPost apparently forgot to include that little tidbit in its loving tribute.)
HuffPost also could have "personalized" the story of LtC Harari's assassination, as it has a fetish for doing for "victims" of Israel's alleged wrongdoing. For example:
- When a top Hamas murderer was killed in a Dubai hotel, HuffPost inserted his name in the headline; it did the same thing for another Hamas murderer who was killed in a firefight with the IDF, while it was trying to arrest him (in HuffPost's story, he's labeled an "activist"). Documented here and here.
- When a Palestinian journalist was detained by the IDF, HuffPost ran a big picture of her (right), and identified her by name. Yet when a militant Islamist hacked a 16 year old Israeli boy to death with an axe, HuffPost did not run the boy's picture in the story, even though it was available at the time via Google. Documented here and here.
Instead of doing any of these things, HuffPost decided to spit in the face of LtC Harari, his family and loved ones, the IDF, the State of Israel, and Jews everywhere --- while giving the journalistic equivalent of a deep kiss to Lebanon and Hezbollah.
How did it do all these things?
In summary, this report (continued in Part 2) documents the following facts:
August 3: HuffPost briefly published on its front page --- and promoted via "teasers" throughout the site --- the original, incorrect version of story, containing Lebanon's lie that the tree was on its territory, and it only returned the IDF's fire.
This version, by the AP, depicted the incident from a "he said-she said" narrative, and falsely claimed the IDF crossed the border to trim this tree, which its photo erroneously labeled as being on Lebanese territory. HuffPost also posted "teasers" at the top of other story pages, directing readers to this version of events. It allowed users to post a torrent of hate comments and propaganda against Israel, in direct response to this incitement.
August 4, HuffPost removed that story, then briefly published a story claiming the U.N. "disputed" Lebanon's claims --- mid-way down on a secondary page.
Rather than replacing its front-page story, it published the second one --- with this ambiguous headline --- mid-way down on its "World" page (beyond the immediate view of visitors to the site). It's also interesting to note that HuffPost decided to place the story below other stories that it deemed were of far greater importance, regarding a parasailing donkey, and Chinese prostitutes. HuffPost did not, however:
In short, if one wasn't looking for an update to this story, one would not have found it. HuffPost did, however, allow users to post another torrent of hate comments and propaganda against Israel on this and other threads.
- Include the AP's corrected caption of its photo
- Include any of the in-depth reports on the matter by prominent Israel-focused media watchdogs that were available at the time
- Promote this story via "teasers" throughout the site, as it does when Israel is accused of wrongdoing
August 5: HuffPost removed the second story, and did not publish any more stories on this incident --- despite the ready availability of credible sources that documented the shocking truth of LtC Harari's assassination.
From this point forward, HuffPost had no news stories being promoted on any of its pages concerning the Lebanon-Israel border incident. Even as more and more reports were being published, from as far away as the Sydney Morning-Herald (Australia) --- documenting the fact that Lebanon had openly admitted it murdered LtC Harari, and that it and Hezbollah were issuing further threats against Israel --- HuffPost decided to publish none of them.
For the next week, instead of publishing any of these stories --- or assigning any of its 53 "editors" to "ferret out the truth" of this cross-border firefight --- HuffPost chose instead to devote space on its front pages to "news" stories it decided were more important for its global readers to be aware of, including:
- An elephant's injured foot
- Indications that Winston Churchill believed in UFOs
- A parasailing donkey
- A Russian artist who can paint with her breast
- A man who put semen in a spray bottle and "assaulted" a woman
- The clothes Michelle Obama chose to wear that day
- Celebrity trash talk
- Dog eats man's toe, saves his life
- Rare color photos from the Great Depression
- Husband locked in laundry room for a year by his wife and her lover
You get the idea.
In fact, HuffPost left the "news" stories about the elephant and Churchill published on its "World" page for an entire week --- day after day, straight through from August 5-11:
August 11 (click here to see that on the left, the "Just Posted" article was, indeed, on Aug. 11)
This was no error: HuffPost made the conscious decision, day after day, that these nonsensical stories were more important for its global audience to be aware of, than Lebabon's assassination of a distinguished IDF officer, and the broader implications of its savagery and unprovoked aggression.
To see the details of our report --- the stories that were available to HuffPost about this incident, but which it chose to ignore --- and the nonsensical ones it did publish, instead ---- continue to Part 2.
UPDATE: See our August 25 follow-up to this expose here --- how HuffPost spit in LtC Harari's face a second time.
If you share our view that HuffPost's actions in regard to this story --- and its pattern of anti-Israel, anti-Semitic bias --- are reprehensible, we urge you to do two things:
(1) Forward the link to this story along to others who support Israel
(2) Make your voice known to HuffPost's senior management (politely, please), here. You may even ask them:
- If HuffPost's advertisers are aware of its pathological bias against Israel
- How HuffPost would like it if pro-Israel activists organized a "Move Your Advertising" campaign against it, similar to the "Move Your Money" campaign that Ms. Huffington concocted against big banks, which she's hawked throughout 2010 (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)