Cutting through the bullshit.

Tuesday, 28 November 2006

Already reeling

A recipient wrote yesterday pointing out that I had failed to indicate when writing of ‘the Times’ whether I meant the NY, LA, London, or Canberra Times. I promised to try to be more careful in future. But if I should ever slip, I probably mean the NY Times and you can work out which it is by hovering your mouse over the hypertext link.

Thank goodness there’s a ceasefire at last. Today’s NY Times carries an article by Dina Kraft, datelined Sderot. To put the event in context, she reports,

at least 1,100 rockets have been fired into Israel itself. With the escalation of the fighting in June, about 400 Palestinians have been killed, a number of them militants, along with three Israeli soldiers. Four Israelis have been killed by rocket fire in the past 14 months

Ms Kraft has decided not to trouble her audience with a count of the projectiles fired into the Gaza strip, including, perhaps the 11 155mm shells used in the Beit Hanoun massacre less than a fortnight ago, an incident already consigned to the memory hole. She wants readers to believe the ‘escalation’ was somehow mutual rather than an invasion by the world’s fourth most powerful military.

Mr. Olmert said the re-entry was to win the release of the captured soldier, Cpl. Gilad Shalit, but many Israelis said they viewed the move as a chance to quash the rocket fire.

Ms Kraft reports this as if either of those pretexts made any sense in political or military terms, as if five months of experience haven’t decisively proven that ‘re-entry’, so much more pleasant for those enjoying entry than military invasion, was entirely ineffective in retrieving the hostage and quite predictably provoked further rocket firing in retaliation.

Parents in both southern Israel and Gaza reported anxious and fearful children, many showing signs of trauma and regression like bed-wetting and nightmares after the long months of back and forth fighting, rockets, shelling and airstrikes.

This kind of conflict is so evenhanded in how it traumatizes children. The two evenly matched antagonists clearly launch airstrikes against each other. And there is no mention of the sonic boom attacks Israeli warplanes have been carrying out many times nightly for months. Indeed, it is not clear whether these, which impact most on children and may in fact be intended specifically to target children, come within the terms of the ceasefire.

In any case, four paragraphs sympathetically tell the tale of Daniel Gigi, who is leaving Sderot with his family of six after a Qassam rocket hit their house. Another quotes an 11 year old Sderot boy treated for shock last week. There are no sympathetic stories of Palestinian parents fleeing the ‘conflict’, because of course departure is not an option for them. There are no quotes from shocked Palestinian children, either.

A unity government could end the economic and political embargo imposed by Western countries after Hamas was elected in January.

Ms Kraft clearly wants the reader to join her in thinking a few things here. One of them is that the Palestine Authority is a government. In reality, as everyone knows, it was set up as part of the Oslo ‘peace process’ with the principal objective of transferring responsibility for policing Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza from the Israeli military to a more acceptable looking indigenous surrogate. Another is that there is nothing unusual about imposing an airtight ‘economic and political embargo’ in retaliation for an undesireable election result. It might be worth mentioning, if you believe in such things, as the NY Times often makes a show of doing, that such a blockade would be a clear violation of Article 2.4 of the UN Charter, ‘All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state,’ except, conveniently, Palestine is not a state, undermining the initial assertion about a ‘unity government’. It might be worth mentioning how quickly the blockade was imposed after the purported provocation or how comprehensive its provisions. Some might think that it was somewhat cynical to place a paragraph of this kind into a report without fleshing it out with a few words describing the devastating impact the embargo has had on the ordinary Palestinians who comprise its principal target.

On the whole, this report, like others every day or nearly every day, in the NY Times and many other western media outlets, as I often point out in this blog, would appear to provide evidence of a pro Israeli stance. But if that is the impression you get, I fear you, like me, are mistaken.

Isi Leibler, identified as chair of ‘the Diaspora-Israel relations committee of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs’, writing in yesterday’s Jerusalem Post, warns, in the wake of the imminent launch of al-Jazeera’s English service,

There is no disputing that at every level we are losing the global war of ideas. Despite clear evidence that fanatical Islamic fundamentalism threatens the basic fabric of Western civilization, Israel, and by extension the Jewish people, are now generally perceived as pariahs.

The English version of Al Jazeera thus has the potential of evolving into one of the most effective weapons against the Jewish people, already reeling from the onslaught of massive waves of anti-Semitism. It may further marginalize Israel and create more animus against Diaspora Jews.

I’ll leave it to the reader to pick apart all the propaganda tricks Mr Leibler deploys in his article – ‘already reeling from the onslaught of massive waves of anti-Semitism’, indeed! But I do want to draw attention to how comfortable this champion of diaspora Jewry is drawing the diaspora into the crimes of the Zionist state, seamlessly weaving the first person plural personal pronoun through his narrative. Zionists correctly deplore this as anti-Semitic when their perceived enemies do it, but it is a fundamental part of their own rhetorical arsenal. As a Jew resident in ‘the Muslim world’, it is still Zionism that makes me most uneasy and I find more anti-Semitism on the Jerusalem Post’s website than on al-Jazeera’s. So go figure.

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