I know I keep using superlatives like “the worst”, “the lowest” , “the silliest” etc. to describe mainstream media reports, but this article, ” Why the Palestinians are turning against al-Assad”, really does exceed all others in disinformation, bias, and outright fabrication of truths that are readily available for us to fact-check given that the author, Jonathan Schanzer (vice president of research at the Zionist think tank, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies), has linked them all in his piece. I can boldly assert without equivocation, that this is by far the most sloppily researched and badly written article I have read until now in mainstream media—and my standards for mainstream media are really very low. I understand that CNN is not responsible for the contents of this piece of rubbish- posing- as -analysis, but the fact that the editors let him get away with so many glaring inaccuracies which are very easy to detect if they had simply opened his links, can only mean their standards of professionalism—and I am not referring to bias here, just technical competence—have slipped to an all time zero.
Excerpts and my comments in bold:
"It doesn’t help that the regime is murdering Palestinians. On Thursday, the regime reportedly killed 20 when it shelled a refugee camp. Reports before that indicated that al-Assad’s campaign had already claimed the lives of some 300 Palestinians. It’s still unclear just how many Palestinians have responded by taking up arms to challenge the regime, but a clearer picture is emerging of who is abandoning al-Assad in his hour of need."
Of course, what Schanzer fails to mention is that Chris Gunness, spokesman for UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, confirmed in a statement that, “Intensive armed engagements in Tadhamoun, Yalda, Hajar Al Aswad, Al Kaddam and other districts that share borders with Yarmouk have resulted in deaths and injuries of residents of Yarmouk, including Palestine refugees.” Electronic Intifada also notes that “despite the fact that refugee homes and UNRWA property have been damaged, Gunness stated that, “There is no indication that Palestine refugees, homes or properties are being targeted.”
”Amidst the ongoing violence, Hamas spokesman Izzak Reshak recently condemned Syria for massacring 17 Palestinians.”
But if one reads the link he provides, we find that Izzat Rashak, condemned nobody in particular, and the article he is quoted in lays the blame for the massacre on the FSA: “Izzat Rashak, the politburo of Hamas, condemned Thursday morning via his Facebook account the massacre committed against the Palestinians. These actions target the Palestinian existence in Syria. Palestinian sources said that the 17 Palestinian militants of the Free Syrian Army were kidnapped on Hama-Aleppo Road.”
" The Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), another long-time Syrian client, meanwhile, has been careful not to directly challenge the regime, but it may also be on its way out. Reports in Middle East news outlets recently noted that PIJ figures were exiting Syria after more than twenty years of close economic and military cooperation. Despite some denials from the PIJ politburo, other faction leaders reportedly quit Syria and headed back to Gaza. A new report suggests that the group wants to move its headquarters from Damascus to Beirut or Cairo.”
The “news reports” Schanzer links are in fact one Arabic report from the Saudi-owned Alsharq al-Awsat which actually argues the exact OPPOSITE of what he writes. Were it not for his misinterpretation of English links, one could chalk it up to lousy translation but that is clearly not the case here. Far from distancing itself from Assad’s government and permanently leaving Syria, the report claims that Ramadan Shallah commutes between Syria and Iran, like other IJ officials, and that while difficult military and political conditions have forced the movement to operate outside of Syria, they haven’t actually left Syria. The article notes that IJ officials travel back and forth “very freely” “in contrast to Hamas whose relationship with the Syrian has sharply deteriorated”. The report further quotes an IJ source in Gaza who denied that IJ officials had fled Syria. The source went on to tell the newspaper that “the movement could only stand by its brothers in Syria during this difficult time.”
Moreover the “other faction leaders” he refers to are none other than one cited in the Maan article he links, Ibrahim Shehada. That report is actually entitled “Over 100 Gaza families flee Syria,” and describes these families as those who “had business ties in Syria or were students studying at Syrian universities”, rather than IJ officials’ families.
"Even the Palestine Liberation Army (PLA), a force that answers to Assad’s military and is charged with policing Syria’s nine refugee camps, has reportedly refused to carry out acts of violence on behalf of the regime. For this, some have paid the ultimate price. Indeed, Syrian forces reportedly kidnapped 16 PLA members and slit their throats. The regime insists that the PLA is still an arm of the military, but it’s unclear if the faction has done more than police the camps.
Schanzer audaciously links the story about the 16 PLA who were killed, to a Jerusalem Post article but the piece actually contradicts his assertion that they were killed by “Syrian forces”. Instead, the JP reports that “Palestinian sources believe the perpetrators belonged to the Free Syrian Army and other opposition groups. Members of the Free Syrian Army have also entered Yarmouk and other Palestinian refugees camps, the officials said.” Moreover, the Maan report which he uses to buttress his claim that PLA was urged to fight alongside the Syrian army but “refused to carry out acts of violence” makes no such mention of this. It only states that “Palestinian officials insist that refugees in Syria are not taking part in the conflict raging in the country…..” How he inferred from this that they were being pressured to partake in the war against the rebels is truly mind-boggling.
"To be sure, many Palestinians have long appreciated Syria’s political and financial assistance to Hamas, PIJ, Hezbollah, and other factions that have engaged in “resistance” against Israel. But it has become impossible for even these violent factions to support a state responsible for the deaths of an estimated 18,000 people."
I don’t know if Schanzer is referring to a PIJ or a Hizbullah who exist in some parallel universe, but the ones on this one remain die-hard supporters of the Syrian government.
"Recently, on the website of the Beirut-based al-Akhbar, the Lebanese writer Amal Saad-Ghorayeb tried to argue that the “real litmus [test] of Arab intellectuals’ and activists’ commitment to the Palestinian cause is no longer their support for Palestinian rights, but rather, their support for the Assad leadership’s struggle…” This argument suggests that al-Assad’s support for the Palestinians was never about the cause. Rather, it was a pretense he wielded for legitimacy.”
Right, that is exactly what my argument “suggests”. Does this so called “scholar” even understand the English language? How did my argument about the necessity of supporting the Assad leadership’s struggle to the Palestinian cause become an indication of the leadership’s cynical use of that cause?
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