Gaza and Media Representation
Special features of this campaign
Of all the military adventures started by Israel, the current one seems to recieve the nicest treatment from the British media. One is taxed to find an intelligent or searching question from any of the anchors towards Israeli spokesperson; one is taxed even harder to hear a Palestinian speaking, not to mention a Palestinian from Gaza. Why is this wholesale surrender of journalistic practice, and squandering of standards of fair reporting taking place, and what can we do about it?
This topic is now attracting much interest. Two excellent pieces that should be read in conjunction with my article here, are:
The BBC: Eyeless in Gaza: Muhammad Idrees Ahmad, Electronic Intifada
Israel’s blonde bombshells and real bombs in Gaza : Yosefa Loshitzky, Electronic Intifada
The Electronic Intifada has some specialised sections on the international media bias, such as the Media section. The analysis and the information is faultless and wide-ranging. Another piece to come out is:
Beware of the Israeli Propaganda Machine: Spinwatch, by Andy Rowell
Sometimes in conflict it is the little lies that expose the true depth of the deception that is being perpetuated. And the current conflict in Gaza is no exception.
Since the beginning of Israel’s assault on Gaza American media outlets have only reported a one-sided Israeli narrative depicting the Israel as the victim exercising self-defense against Palestinian terrorists . National TV News stations have refused to show viewers the carnage, destruction and humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The media’s unethical biased actions have provided public relations cover for Israel’s massacres in Gaza, giving Israel more time to kill, injure and destroy Gaza’s civilian infrastructure.
The media has also ignored to relay the news of alleged Israeli war crimes against civilians a claim made by several international agencies including the Red Cross, Amnesty International and the United Nations.
TAKE ACTION NOW: TELL THE AMERICAN MEDIA TO STOP THE BIAS COVERAGE AND MEDIA BLACK OUT ON GAZA
Below you can see what Israeli media channels are doing in order to derail and distort liberal and humanist messages by intellectuals. Gideo Levy, the one of two Haaretz correspondents (the other is Amira Hass) has written a piece which in Hebrew is called – מחאה בכיף – this could, or should be translated as ‘deluxe protest’, but below you can see that the editor or translator, or both, decided to derail the message and title it somewhat differently…
By Gideon Levy
Who says the general public isn’t involved? Who dares claim it lacks a worthy civil protest movement? Just look at how the nation is shouting, nay, screaming for the release of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit. Kindergartens and universities, cars and balconies are awash with a sea of banners calling for his release; television franchisee Reshet has launched a campaign, presenter Oded Ben-Ami has started a day count and journalist Gadi Sukenik has had a clock ticking on his show since the abduction in 2006, asking viewers to send text messages to show support. How moving. Even the ticket machine in the parking lot is adorned with Shalit’s photo – for 16 shekels you can buy a parking ticket and take part in a protest.
Everywhere we see protest tents and marches, drivers honking and demonstrators shouting in unison: “We want him home and we want him now.” And who doesn’t want Shalit to come home? What can we agree more about than that? The prime minister’s wife, the infrastructure minister, the president – they all support the protest but act like observers who bear no responsibility; they jump on the bandwagon going nowhere.
This protest is for spoiled people seeking deluxe activism. It’s a Purim protest, a demonstration in costume, just like the national campaign against traffic accidents or the light aircraft aerial display organized by supporters of the release of airman Ron Arad, missing since falling captive in Lebanon in the 1980s. Only one banner needs to be raised reading “release 1,000 terrorists.” That banner shouldn’t be put up outside the Prime Minister’s Residence but outside the Hadarim Prison where Palestinian prisoners are held. How many of the thousands of activists who support Shalit’s release are willing to do that?
Just like other crucial matters like, say, peace, we are all in favor – but at what price? That’s another matter. Let’s not get into it. It’s enough to say we favor a two-state solution. When exactly? Why not now? What about the Jewish settlements in the West Bank? Let’s not quarrel over trifles and spoil everything.
As is their wont, Israelis demand to fly business class but pay with bonus points. Peace for peace, Shalit for Shalit. They want to have their cake and eat it too; for Shalit to be released without releasing Palestinians. The media fan the flames, crying that the prisoners have “blood on their hands;” politicians preach that we should stay quiet “lest the price rises.” But the price has not risen or fallen, nor will it fall in the future. But how many of Shalit’s supporters even debate that issue?
Recent key example of the Propaganda machine in operation
A recent example of the lie machine in operation is the now famous case in which, on January 5th, the Israelis have killed 42 refugees hiding in the UN School in northern Gaza. The UN did not take kindly to this, for some reason, and have also decided to face the Israeli lies head on. On January 11th, after a week of lies, the IOF (Israel Occupation Forces) have come witha new lie, to top all the lies they spread before. That this lie does not fit in with the older lies, is neither here nor there. I will be writinga proper analysis of the case when time allows, but please read the item below:
A preliminary investigation into the fatal shooting by the Israel Defense Forces into a United Nations building in northern Gaza on Tuesday reveals the Israeli troops firing on the building missed their targets by some 30 meters. Hamas is claiming the mortar fire killed 42 people and left dozens wounded, but senior IDF officers say the figures are dubious and that Hamas is inflating the numbers. The probe, which was conducted by the Paratrooper Brigade whose troops were responsible for the area, found that the army’s location system to pinpoint launch sites indicated that militants had launched a Qassam rocket into Israel from within a yard adjacent to the courtyard of the UN building.
This is how the lie machine works: First, they kill the people. Then when it is reported, the IOF (Israel Occupation Forces) tells the world it isa lie – they did not act in this area at all on that date. When the UN proves this to be a lie, they say that fire from combatants has been directed at them from the building. The UN proves this is a lie, and the next phase is this ‘investigation’. All those ‘investigations’ and lies are invented somewhere in the IOF lie machine, and spinned-out like so much confetti. By the time the fourth and fifth iteration of the argument takes place, the debate has gone elsewhere. Israel has continued to deny, and enough idiots believe anything it says, especially in the ‘free world’. Of course, they never admit that they spouted all those lies before; they just ignore the whole thing. This is also interesting when you consider the ‘surgical strikes’ which have already killed almost 1000 people in Gaza.
For more on this issue, look at the BBC inquiry and reports:
Inquiry call on the massacre in Zeitoun
Alongside the battles raging in southern Israel, another war is being fought – a virtual one, over the Internet. Israeli and Palestinian propagandas disseminators have learned to make good use of Internet tools such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and blogs. Volunteers work alongside official public-relations entities, presenting their own positions and reporting from the field. Another battle front is the face-off between pro-Palestinian and Israeli hackers, with both sides seeking to inflict damage to the official Web sites of their respective enemy.
The Israeli propaganda machine
One of the explanations for this is the launch of an Israeli press and media onslaught, planned for a long time together with the military campaign, and run in synchronism with it. Israel have flooded the air with simple slogans, all of them false, but catchy enough to have the great minds of the British media fall for them. The British media have not given Israelis a hard time: as opposed to other countries’ media:
Quoted from the article below:
Israeli diplomats and spokespeople working with the British media have said that so far “most of the hostility has been in the print media, especially in The Guardian and The Independent. The electronic media, including also the BBC, have made more of an effort to seem even-handed. “The coverage is definitely less hostile to Israel than what we saw during the Second Lebanon War two-and-a-half years ago.”
“Israeli diplomats and spokespeople working with the British media have said that so far “most of the hostility has been in the print media, especially in The Guardian and The Independent. The electronic media, including also the BBC, have made more of an effort to seem even-handed.”
It also seems that the long planning of both the military atrocities as well as the media control has paid dividends:
“The months of preparation and the increased intensity of the media efforts have also shown results in Britain. Senior diplomats in the London Embassy, headed by Ambassador Ron Prosor gave an unprecedented 25 interviews to national television and radio channels, in the first three days of the operation.”
December 31, 2008
“Whenever Israel is bombing, it is hard to explain our position to the world,” said Avi Pazner, Israel’s former ambassador to Italy and France, and one of the officials drafted in to present Israel’s case to the world media. “But at least this time everything was ready and in place.” One of the decisions taken following Israel’s failure to explain its case during the Lebanon War was the formation of a National Information Directorate within the Prime Minister’s Office, tasked with coordinating the efforts of the press bureaus in the various government departments.
The Directorate, which has been up and running for eight months, began planning six months ago for a Gaza operation. A forum with representatives of the press offices of the Foreign and Defence ministries, the IDF Spokesman Unit and other agencies held numerous meetings to decide on the message. The forum held two system-wide exercises in the past two months, one aimed at foreign media and, last week, one dedicated to the Israeli press.”
Antisemitism is always useful
But sometimes, with the best preparation in the world, one still meets some hard-headed, unreasonable individuals who would not accept Israel’s claims that in bombing people to smithereens it intends to help them, and to bring peace and calm through explosions and death. For such ocassions exactly, Israel and its allies have a trump card. Any criticism which is too sharp of their actions and brutalities, can always be countered by claiming it is antisemitic. “you are attacking us because we are Jewish. In the case of any other country, you would not attack them in this way.” Most liberal media workers, especially if they are not Jewish themselves, fear this accusation like the plague; after all, how exactly do you prove you are not antisemitic? In Israel, the popular assumption is that ALL Goys are antisemtic, whether they know it or not, whether they admit it or not. The Engage group, operating against the proposals for a boycott of Israeli instiutions, has used this argument for years. It becomes an “antisemites under the beds” hunt, in which the media cannot win. The powerful Jewish establishment, in the UK, France or the USA alike, are able to raise hell on the basis of such false accusations, and to claim that the only reason why Israel “is singled out” for special criticism, as they see it, is because it is a Jewish state. The BBC is especially prone to such attacks, and as a result has adjusted its coverage over the last decade, so as to make criticism from this corner unnecessary. The Zionist lobby is also fond of attacking papers they consider (for whatever strange reason…) leftist or liberal, such as The Guardian or The Independent, which take a more autonomous line on Israel than the papers which are part of the media conglomerates. The BBC has now acknowledged that there is indeed a propaganda war being fought, following reports from Jerusalem:
By Paul Reynolds
World affairs correspondent, BBC News website
Israel has tried to take the initiative in the propaganda war over Gaza but, in one important instance, its version has been seriously challenged.
The Blond Offensive
“One of our lessons from the Lebanon War was that there were too many uniforms in the coverage,” says Yarden Vatikay, director of the National Information Directorate, “and that doesn’t come over very positively.” The next clip demonstrates this clearly, but the IDF has made it impossible to embed it (sic) withinga webpage, so please use the link to view it:
Anyone who has listened to Ehud Olmert, or the other Ehud – Barak, will not immediately find them either effective, likeable or trustworthy. Hardly any Israeli trusts them, anyway. This can be seen very clearly in the Barak clip I included, where he speaks to InfoLiveTV, an interent news channel working for some two years, placing Israeli propaganda on the net, mainly on YouTube. This was well understood by the planners of this military campaign, and from the start, a new policy of propagating the Israeli agenda, views and terminology has been developed over the last few months, as the military plans were being perfected, and the trigger for the operation prepared. One of the first rules seems to have been to award the task of fronting the Israeli position to a series of peroxide Brunhildas from a galaxy galaxy, speaking in faux sincerity about children in Israel having to face rockets every day. I really hope that none of my readers is denuded enough to criticise this as sexist, which it isn’t. It is a description of a process which affects our attitude to what we hear, and this is exactly the intended effect. The use of women is a sharp move indeed – they cannot be easily connected to those who drop the bombs, and have been well-trained in speaking evenly and without raising their voice, and appealing to our better side. That they never discuss their victims, that they never mention the starvation of 1.5 million people in Gaza, is marginal and unimportant; they only need to repeat the formulations which have been crafted for them, to look unthreatening, and to spend time on camera – enough time, in effect, to allow the killing to go on unhindered. The anchors are unlikely to pair them with a Palestinian woman in Gaza, after all… Speaking a calm voice, they can get away with inanities such as in the next clip, where Livni claims that this operation is planned to “bring calm and peace into the region”. No questiong of her statement follows.
The second important feature of the Brunhildas, is the fact that many of them are of Anglo-Saxon origin, and they speak without the harsh, Israeli accent. This helps the average presenter to feel that here is a woman who speaks sense, after all, she does not sound like someone from the Middle East, and certainly does not sound like an Arab, which is all good news. The Brunhildas are trained in screen-hogging, so can go on speaking for quite a while before the anchor feels the need to cut them off, as cutting them off, while they are in mid-flow of their even delivery, seems almost like an act of violence. The Brunhildas can afford to speak like that – after all, their children are not dead as a result of aerial bombardment, neither are they likely to be – they do not display emotions, but are trying to be the voice of feminine reason. Major Avital Leibowitz, another Brunhilda, is one of the leading spokespersons, always wheeled in on difficult cases.
The language used is extremely important, as is the poise – Tzipi Livni always speak of returning the ‘calm and peace’ to Israel, and to ‘let the Israeli people live peaceful lives’ at the very point that her forces are destroying life on an industrial scale, after having starved them for two years. The other line which ALL Israeli propagators have used is: “No nation on earth would tolerate rocket being hurled at its civilians”, a sentence which Netanyahu, in the clip included here, is able to express with hat mock sincerity and friendliness which is his trademark facade. While he is one of the few Israeli males giving interviews at the moment, he has been so well trained, that he always gets out what he wants:
The relaxed manager in his/her office
As opposed to the many pictures of bloodshed which come from Gaza or Lebanon, in the wake of Israel’s war crimes, the interviews with spokespersons for the Israeli government or the IDF are always are conducted in the privacy and peace and quiet of an office, with both sides in the conversation seated and relaxed, and with the Israeli interviewee doing their best to smile and be pleasant. Sharp as reporters may be, and most of them are far from it, this nice and friendly atmosphere makes it almost impossible to be critical, to ask searching questions (even if they had any) and to question seriously what they are being told. Nowhere is this clearer than in the Netanyahu clip, as it was with Avital leibowitz, IDF’s best propagator of feminine calm and fairness, and well trained at uttering lies most sincerely.
In a more recent clip you can see Avital doing her job again, after Israel has killed eigh Gazan workmen in gas truck, a fact exposed by B’Tselem, the human right group. This clip is especially interesting.
How different this looks from the crying mothers, shrieking ambulances, blood spilt on the road, paramedics running with half-dead bodies – we immediately feel a deep sense of calm on cutting to this civilised person in a civilised office. It seems that our reaction may well be one the reporter has experienced before us, after they ran under fire from the Israeli forces, if they were ever near Gaza. Of course, most of the reporters have never been to Gaza, and would run there even if they were allowed to enter. One cannot blame them and hereby lies another mechanism of information control, used by Israel.
Blocking any reporting from Gaza
Of course, the best method of controlling viewer views, is to block their sight, not allowing them to see what is not a good idea for them to be witness to, so they cannot develop an independent view. This is why blocking entry to reporters is the standard tool of control Israel uses in the Occupied Territories of Palestine. Without reporters, who could really say what actually took place? After all, Britain played the same game in the Falklands, and later, the USA and UK invented the ‘embedded reporters’ to avoid independent reporting. It works.
However, not always do the reporters accept this stoically, like they are meant to. Yesterday, the foreign reporters in Israel demanded in an injunction at the High Court, to be let into Gaza. The Court found them justified, but they are still not allowed in, but only according to times and rules the army dictates, so we are back to embedded reporting, almost. But, of course we now live in different times, with the internet allowing just about anybody with a simple camera and computer to upload images into the most public domain. This has typified the conflict in Palestine for some years now. While the material may be fuzzy, lack a structure, and lack the voice of authority, it is probably more real as a result, rather than less so. The fact that such images can be shared and forwarded with ease and great speed, also means that there are chinks in the iron ring Israel has drawn around Gaza.
Of course, on the established media channels, such images will be stopped at the door, and most of the public, here as well as in Israel, are protected from reality by the machinery of media control, which is obviously ideologically oriented and run.
Blame the Victim!
This is the most important rule of Israeli propaganda: always blame the victim for their own misfortune. Israel, occupation, bombardment, invasion, brutalities – all pale into insignificance when the victim has themselves only to blame for what ‘has befallen them’, as if this is some tsunami or cyclone coming from nowhere, with nothing that can be done about it. As opposed to Israel, which always wants peace, even when it massacres hundreds and thousands, the Palestinians always want war and conflict, of course. The poor Israelis are ‘forced to act’ in order to ‘avoid further bloodshed’, and in order to ‘stop the terror attacks’. So the killing by Israel, the destruction wrought by its ‘defence forces’ is in the interest of peace, calm ans normality, you understand. Say it enough times, and most people will believe you. The fact that Israel has rejected the Arab peace proposals without even a second look at them, when what was offered was ‘comprehensive peace with the Arab world’, is of interest here. But who knows about it? Who remembers that this was suggested for years now? What we remember well is that Israel fights against terror, when it itself is the terrorist!
Israeli suffering reins supreme
There is no suffering like Israeli suffering, of course. ‘How would you react if day after day thousands of rockets were directed at your home, school and workplace?’ ask Benyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s ex-Premier, and in all likelihood, its next one. So let us look at this claim.
There were about 6,000 rockets which were launched at Israel for the last six months. This was Hamas’s reaction to over two years of a total blockade of the Gaza strip. In all those attacks, one person was killed in Israel, and less than ten were slightly injured. This is a most surprising statistics, until you learn that the rockets launched at Israel are miniscule, carry a very small explosive payload, and are of the type which, in the west, can be purchased over the counter by rocket enthusiast, minus the explosives, of course. In the first attack on Gaza, in the first day of the current brutalities, Israel has killed 45 Palestinians in less than 8 minutes!
It is really interesting to also compare what is happening on both sides of the fence to famous historical cases. So let us compare the plight of Israelis to that of the London citizens during the Blitz, or the citizens of Guernica in 1937 – two famous situations all are aware of. On an average night in London, over 100 hundred people where killed. In Guernica, in all the attacks by the Luftwafe, between 250 and 300 people were killed (though much larger numbers, around 1,500 were at first use, the research has proved them to be incorrect). So, it seems that the Israelis are not under a blitz, or in Guernica, but rather under the ineffectual, almost symbolic action of a small, poor and disorganised militia in Gaza, fighting to end the siege, and end the occupation started in 1967.
But it seems that the blitz and Guernica are much more appropriate when describing the situation in Gaza itself. Israel has used more explosives on Gaza in 10 days than the Luftwafe was able to drop on London in a whole year. The pictures and video clips are quite expressive proofs of the amount of damage done, and that is before we even start discussing the Enriched Uranium and Phosphor bombs and shells, that obviously were not used over London or Guernica.
So let us look at Israeli logic: of course, Israeli suffering is supreme, because it is ours, and Palestinian suffering is not important, because a) we are causing it, in order to punish them for not voting in Sharon and Netanyahu, and choosing Hamas instead… and b) We will not look at their suffering, and not show it, as it may deflect us from our sacred mission, and c) It already says so in the Scriptures: “He who saves one Jews, saves the whole world” (Hamatzil Nefesh Ahat MeIsrael, Keilu Hitzil Olam Umlo’o) and, “The best of Goys should also be killed” (Hatov ShebaGoyim, Harog). So, here we have two Mizvas (Hebrew: Religious duties or commandments in one operation. Very efficient.
In the next blog I shall be dealing with complaining about media bias, and the terminology to use when speaking/writing to media channels, making a case for Palestine.