• First published in 2004 as Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion (BNOR).

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Brigitte Gabriel and that “Hezbollah Flag” Claim Update

A couple of blog entries ago I noted a quote from Brigitte Gabriel published on the Christian Right website OneNewsNow. Gabriel claimed that the boat Dignity, which was intercepted by Israel’s navy on the way to Gaza just before New Year, had been flying the Hezbollah flag. There is no reference to this detail in any news reports or comment pieces that I have seen (including in hostile accounts), and despite looking at numerous pictures of the boat on YouTube, Flickr, and other sites, I have been unable to find any pictures of the Dignity with a such a flag. There are, however, plenty of pictures which show the boat with other flags, such as the Rainbow “Peace” flag and the Palestinian flag (but not the Hamas flag, I should add). It is also very unlikely that Gabriel’s knowledge of the boat extends beyond the general media reports.

I have now received a comment from someone involved with the Free Gaza Movement, who writes that:

Of course we were not flying the Hezbolla flag, or the Hamas flag or any other political flag…

Unless there is something I have missed, the weight of evidence suggests that Gabriel and OneNewsNow have spread a falsehood about a group of people they disagree with. Former congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, who was on the boat, may be a person of questionable political judgement, and it is dispiriting to read that after the incident “Representatives from Hezbollah and Amal movement also welcomed the Dignity boat in Tyre”, but that hardly means that pulling a fairly significant fact out of thin air is any less damaging to the credibility of the person doing it.

WND on Ski Resort Gunman

From WorldNetDaily, 31 December:

 Ski manager shot after professing Christianity

Investigators: Gunman asked ‘ religion’ questions before fatal attack

– A gunman who broke into a staff meeting at a Colorado ski resort ranting about religion asked the manager what he believed and shot him twice when the victim responded he was Catholic, according to reports published today about the tragedy.

…Sheriff Joe Pelle said [Derik] Bonestroo was yelling something about religion to employees when resort General Manager Brian Mahon heard the commotion and came into the room. The Camera said witnesses reported the shooter asked Mahon which religion he believed, and when Mahon said he was Catholic, the shooter fired twice and killed him.

Naturally, the Freepers were all over the story; one commentator blames “Dawkins, Hitchins, [sic] etc”, while another points the finger at “Government schools and the mass media.”

However, the WND report (almost certainly rewritten from other sources) once again fails to give its readers all the facts. What was that “something about religion” that Bonestroo was yelling? The Rocky Mountain News reported on the same day:

The Derik Bonestroo who came to Eldora Mountain Resort on Tuesday morning packing a gun is as much a mystery to his old friends as are the demons propelling him to a violent end.

They couldn’t relate to the ski-lift operator who declared his intent to convert non-Christians then gunned down the resort’s popular general manager.

…Bonestroo, who wasn’t well-known in Nederland or at Eldora, where he had worked for a month, fired a bullet into the ceiling after saying something like: “I’m a Christian, and if you’re not a Christian I’m here to convert you.”

From the circumstances it’s obvious that Bonestroo was mentally ill and that whatever religious thoughts were going through his head were the symptoms of psychosis; this tragedy tells us little about the nature of religion or religious belief. But WND, which likes to promote the idea that Christians in the USA are being “persecuted” by non-Christians, has apparently given us a report skewed to re-enforce that impression. Maybe it simply didn’t have all the facts to hand; in which case, can we look forward to an update?

False Flag?

Christian Right news-site OneNewsNow carries a quote from Brigitte Gabriel (emphasis added):

An Arab-Christian woman and Middle East expert believes the Israeli navy was completely justified in stopping a boat en route to deliver medical supplies to terrorists in Gaza.

…The Christian activist points out that [Cynthia] McKinney’s ship was not displaying a Red Cross or Red Crescent flag to indicate it was a humanitarian vessel.

All I saw was a Hezbollah flag, a Palestinian flag, and a Lebanese flag. And if you are Israel seeing this ship coming from the waters in Lebanon, do you think the Israelis are thinking, ‘Oh how wonderful, humanitarian aid, we should let it go’? You bet they wouldn’t let it go,” she notes. “I am surprised they only dinged it. If I was Israel, I would bomb the darn thing.”

This is curious; I’ve scanned various reports about McKinney and the Dignity on YouTube, and I can’t see any sign of the very distinctive gun-fetishizing yellow and green Hezbollah flag. Gabriel’s observation has also passed unnoticed by everyone else, including news-sites and blogs intensely hostile to McKinney  – sites that one would imagine would be all over such a detail. Indeed, there’s not even a mention of it on Gabriel’s website.

Am I missing something – or is Gabriel perhaps making something up?

Gabriel was repudiated by the United Jewish Communities for her anti-Obama rhetoric back in February.

UPDATE: I’ve looked through much of the Free Gaza Movement‘s Flickr photo album, and I’ve tracked down other photos of the boat on Flickr, taken at various dates between October and December. The Dignity is shown festooned with a number of flags on different occasions (including the rainbow “Peace” flag), but I cannot see even a hint of the Hezbollah flag anywhere.