Was “Ruach Shaked” deliberately misleading?

By Vic Rosenthal

Unsurprisingly, given the sustained anti-Israel and antisemitic content of the Egyptian media since (and before) the ‘peace’ treaty, some Egyptians are outraged by alleged Israeli war crimes in the film “Ruach Shaked”, directed by Ran Edelist, which was shown on Israeli television last week. The Jerusalem Post reports that

Severe warnings emerged from Egypt on Friday that Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer would be arrested if he set foot on Egyptian soil. It followed the documentary film about the Shaked Reconnaissance Unit which seemingly held Ben-Eliezer responsible for the deaths of 250 Egyptian prisoners of war during the Six Day War.

“We demand that the Egyptian court bring these murderers and war criminals to justice on Egyptian soil,” Egyptian MP Mustafa Bakri told the Kol al-Arav newspaper on Friday.

It’s clear that the incident did not happen — Shaked did not kill unarmed Egyptian prisoners of war, but rather a lesser number of Palestinian Fedayeen who, while retreating, were still fighting.

In fact, the film apparently (I haven’t seen it) did not explicitly claim that unarmed prisoners were killed:

The Foreign Ministry released a statement on Wednesday in which it refuted the claims that Israeli soldiers killed Egyptian prisoners of war, and sent a copy of the film to Egypt. It said the documentary clearly showed that what occurred was not the “murder of helpless POWs” but rather a battle between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian commandos. The Foreign Ministry added, “It must be remembered that this was a bloody war that cost many lives on both sides.”

The Israel Broadcasting Authority also issued a sharp condemnation of the charges that the movie spoke of the killing of Egyptian prisoners of war. In describing the commandos that were killed, no one said they were prisoners, IBA said.

However, the filmmakers seem to have acted irresponsibly:

As [the narrator] spoke, photos flashed across the screen depicting enemy combatants with their hands up in various stages of surrender; in two snaps, an Israeli soldier stood by them with a gun. Other pictures showed an Israeli soldier with a gun standing over dead bodies. These pictures were in marked contrast to [narrator] Gershoni’s audio description and, [director Ran] Edelist said on Thursday night, he now realized they were inappropriate.

The IBA’s head of documentary films, Ittay Landsburg Nevo, told the Post that the photos in fact came from a separate incident in the Sinai. — JPost

Was it an accident? Who is Ran Edelist? Here’s a quotation in which he talks about religious settlers who were opposed to the Oslo process in 1993:

“You have administered for 25 years a racist regime of conquest, haughtiness and fraudulent heroism.. I will ignore your claim that God is on your side. Permit me to say that I surely hold your God in low repute…

“I have something to tell you which presumably cannot be a great secret even to you. The Israeli army and the Security Branches [i.e., Shabak and Mossad] are preparing for the peace process. The preparations include measures against two kinds of provocations: those of extremist Arabs and of extremist Jews. For me, you and the knife-wielders of Hamas pose the same degree of threat. But since I hope that the Hamas’ threat will be taken care of by its [ethnic] brethren, I have no choice but to neutralize you as a threat. I have no choice because you are my brother.

“It is apparent that we are both moving toward a violent confrontation which may be Jewish-Arab, but may also be internecine Jewish. . . in either case I will not be on your side…” [my emphasis]

Here’s more about what to do with settlers:

In an article published on Yediot Aharonot online entitled “Let the army win,” Edelist wrote that this was the only way to eliminate the extremism of the settlers. “If we want to let the army win, we must provide it with an executive and judicial apparatus that allows it to immediately arrest those that oppose evacuation and remove them to dozens of appropriate detention facilities and camps that will have been prepared in advance,” Edelist wrote. — (Arabs against Discrimination, 2004) [my emphasis. Unfortunately the original article can’t be found online.]

Finally, here is a recent (10 January 2007) article in which Edelist ‘explains’ how and why the approach to peace is always thwarted (by Israel, of course) for the basest of motives:

The situation seems strange: Assad offers talks, yet Israel rejects them. The world offers a Road Map, Israel “adopts it,” but in practice thwarts it. Mahmoud Abbas wants an agreement, but he’s ignored until Hamas rises to power. Hamas offers a temporary ceasefire, but Israel rejects the offer while continuing with detention operations and expending settlements.

And then comes the “daily incident:” Shooting a 14-year-old girl by mistake, and a “mishap” in Ramallah that leaves four civilians dead while Prime Minister Ehud Olmert meets with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. It’s happening not only now, but throughout the recent years. Every time we approach calm, an incident takes place but is presented by the government and media establishment as a necessary response…

There’s of course an ideological side to this conduct: A Greater State of Israel and security considerations. Yet beyond any argument there’s a giant monster chained by the conflict and waiting to be freed.

A whole sector within Israeli society (and perhaps even the entire country) cannot afford a genuine process of calm. True peace could lead to endless Palestinian demands that may undermine the fundamentals of Israeli society – Demands that stem from the sins of secretive murders and sins of robbery. [my emphasis]

I submit that these are the rantings of a totalitarian personality, a conspiracy theorist, an extremist who has moved from being pro-peace to being anti-Israel.

Is it surprising that his film presents a distorted view of Israeli actions?

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