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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Ha'aretz Canard about Shaba farms - it pays to be inventive

If there is no news, you can make your own, if you publish a large newspaper. UN denies requesting control over Shaba Farms reads the Ha'aretz headline. What happened? Ha'aretz published a report that the UN had decided Shaba farms belongs to Lebanon, and had requested control over it. Apparently, they didn't bother checking with UN sources first. So now, they get another story, which denies the first one:
The United Nations and the government denied a Haaretz report on Wednesday that said the world body had requested Israel transfer the disputed Shaba Farms area on the Lebanese border to UN peacekeepers.
"The UN has not asked the government of Israel to hand over the Shaba Farms to the UN," a UN official said.
"The UN's cartogropher continues his work and will be visiting the area shortly. The secretary-general remains engaged on the issue."
Jerusalem also denied the report.
According to the Haaretz report, printed on Wednesday, the United Nations transmitted messages to Israel in recent weeks that the organization's mapping experts have determined that the Shaba Farms on Mount Dov, now controlled by Israel, is Lebanese territory.
The report said that the UN, which has communicated to Israel that the disposition of the Shaba Farms should be dealt with as soon as possible, has proposed to senior government officials that Israel withdraw from the area and that it be considered international territory to be controlled by UNIFIL.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert oppose the idea, Haaretz said. The size of, and sovereignty over, the Shaba Farms has been a matter of controversy due to the way the border between Syria and Lebanon was marked during the French Mandate between the two world wars.
Can we think of more headlines that will bring hasty denials?
"Bush: I have ordered the U.S. Embassy moved to Jerusalem"
"King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia: Saudis to open embassy in Jerusalem"
"Olmert: Israel is annexing the Golan"
"Hezbollah: We have decided to make peace with Israel"
"Livni: Israel has decided to allow Palestinian refugees to return to Israel"
"Hanniyeh: I have decided to become a Jew"
"Paris Hilton: I have discovered I am gay"
"Bruce Willis to have sex change operation"
Of course, all the above are nonsense. No doubt, each of the above would get the attention of many many readers, and sell whatever products Ha'aretz or another large newspaper is selling. And then, they can issue a denial and get a second article out of it.
Business is business after all.
Of course, the Independent and people like Robert Fisk discovered this idea a long time ago and have exploited it quite well, as has Uzi Mahnaimi at Sunday Times. Thanks to them, the world knows about imaginary Israeli uranium bombs in Lebanon, a super-imaginary ethnobomb, imaginary attacks on Iran and many more bits of journalistic fiction. It sells the product. Who cares if it is true? Somewhere there is a group of people who want it to be true, and that is enough. As Ilan Pappe tells us, "Facts are for pedants."
Ami Isseroff


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