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      'Open Your Eyes': Israel Releases Cartoon Mocking Foreign Correspondents

      'Open Your Eyes': Israel Releases Cartoon Mocking Foreign Correspondents 'Open Your Eyes': Israel Releases Cartoon Mocking Foreign Correspondents 'Open Your Eyes': Israel Releases Cartoon Mocking Foreign Correspondents
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      Middle East

      'Open Your Eyes': Israel Releases Cartoon Mocking Foreign Correspondents

      By Harriet Salem

      Israel's Foreign Ministry has released a South Park-style video mocking Western correspondents' coverage of last summer's bloody war in Gaza as inaccurate and foolish.

      The 49-second clip starts with a blonde-haired man in a suit, who bares a striking resemblance to the fictional reporter "Chris Swollenballs" from the popular animated series, doing a piece to camera in Gaza City. Seemingly oblivious to the masked man firing a rocket right behind him the journalist claims: "The people here are trying to live quiet lives, there are no terrorists here."

      In the second scene the correspondent blithely visits a network of Hamas tunnels, used by militants to launch attacks, calling them "a fascinating attempt... to build an underground subway" while gun-carrying fighters file past in the background heading in the direction signposted "Israel."

      The penultimate scene shows the bumbling reporter describe Palestinian society under Hamas as "liberal and pluralistic" while behind him an armed militant kidnaps a man standing under a LGBT rainbow flag.

      The video then ends with the reporter being handed a pair of glasses and fainting to the ground once he sees the reality of the situation around him. The film closes by saying: "Open your eyes — terror rules Gaza."

      Responding to the clip Tuesday, the Foreign Press Association in Israel (FPA) said it was "surprised and alarmed" at that the foreign ministry would "waste time" producing a video ridiculing journalists reporting the war.

      "Posting misleading and poorly conceived videos on YouTube is inappropriate and undermines the ministry which says it respects the foreign press and its freedom to work in Gaza," the FPA — which represents journalists in Israel, West Bank, and Gaza — said in a statement published on their website.

      At least 2,200 Palestinians, mainly civilians, 73 Israelis, mainly soldiers, and 19 media workers were killed during the 51 days of fighting last July and August.

      During and after last summer's war Israel criticized foreign media coverage for failing to show images of Hamas fighters and rocket launches and dismissed arguments that the militants were largely "invisible" to correspondents during the fighting, due to either being in extremely dangerous frontline positions or hidden among the civilian population.

      Speaking to Israeli newspaper Haaretz last August Foreign Ministry spokesperson Yigal Palmor queried why veteran war photographers hadn't captured "even one" image of the militants as it was "the kind of exclusive photo they routinely risk their neck for."

      The release of video by the foreign ministry on Monday evening came hot on the heels of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's pre-emptive strike against a United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR) report on the war due to be published this week.

      Netanyahu, who has accused the UNCHR of bias against his country, said Sunday the not yet released findings were an attempt to "blacken" Israel's image and reading the document would be a "waste of time."

      In a counter-report released the same day, Israel detailed the measures it says were taken by the military to avoid civilian casualties and accused Hamas of forcing civilians to stay in their homes even after they were given forewarning to leave the area ahead of strikes.

      Defending the South Park-style animation Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Emmanuel Nashon, told the New York Times that it was merely "an attempt to poke gentle fun at some journalists who choose not to see reality."

      "The fact that this little movie created a debate means it did touch a raw nerve," he added.

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      Follow Harriet Salem on Twitter: @HarrietSalem

      Topics: israel, palestine, media, middle east, unhcr, gaza war, gaza, press, press freedom, war & conflict, united nations

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