The killing of 27-year old philosophy student Neda Agha Soltan on the streets of Teheran – filmed and posted on YouTube – has rightly become a focal point for Iran’s democratic protests against the tyrannical clerical regime. But what, pray, does it have to do with the fictionalised death of a Palestinian boy who wasn’t murdered nine years ago by Israeli security forces?
A great deal if you read this extraordinary report from the Financial Times, whose reporter clearly believes considers the link so vital and overwhelming as to constitute the main part of the story.
Here is how the FT’s report begins:
“The footage of a Palestinian man being shot dead next to his 12-year-old son, Muhammad Jamal al-Durrah, by Israeli forces in Gaza in 2000 has been etched in the minds of many Iranians, as state television has continually replayed the images to highlight the ‘Zionist regime’s brutality.’”
Only in the second paragraph does the reporter get round to mentioning the assassination of this perfectly innocent – and, sadly, very real – young woman by a pro-government militiaman as she spoke to friends on her mobile phone:
“Now, the Islamic regime itself has become the subject of similar allegations at home and abroad after gruesome footage of a dying young woman during the suppression of an opposition protest on Saturday was released on the internet.”
This corruption of a tragic, moving and very newsworthy story with so tendentious and misleading an intro is a disgrace, not least because it completely distorts reality and history.
If the “Muhammad Jamal al-Durrah” story really has been etched into the minds of many Iranians, that’s only because they are victims of a pro-Palestinian, anti-Israeli propaganda story which has since been exposed as a complete lie in a court libel action.
As Melanie Phillips and others have comprehensively demonstrated the film footage of a 12-year old lad (not his father, as the FT reports) being deliberately shot by Israelis in a street battle was faked. This hasn’t, of course, stopped it being believed as gospel truth throughout the Muslim world and used to justify everything from the second Palestinian intifada to the beheading of Daniel Pearl.
The Muhammad Jamal al-Durrah blood libel, in other words, represents exactly the kind of vicious, destructive, Islamist extremism which poor Neda Agha Soltan died trying to prevent – not encourage.
Hat-tip: Tom Gross