Monday, 18 August 2014

While Israel kill Gaza's children, media shield the truth about Hamas

As the people of Gaza find momentary respite to survey the impact of Israel's brutal terror, our 'leading' media show no let-up in its selective demonisation of Hamas.

You don't have to support Hamas to see the way in which its vilification is being used to mitigate Israel's mass crimes and justify Western support.

Nor do you need approve armed violence at all to recognise that a people being murdered and imprisoned will rightfully fight back, just as resilient Jews did in the Warsaw Ghetto.

Yet, despite the most graphic evidence of Israeli war crimes, and a unified mood of Palestinian resistance, our liberal media still display an inverted hubris in castigating Hamas rather than Israel.

Last week, the Guardian decided to carry an advert by Elie Wiesel and other Israel-supporting figures depicting Hamas as biblical equivalents of sacrificial child killers.

Posing as vanguards of 'free speech', it was a disgraceful act by the Guardian, condemned by Stop the War and many others. 

The Guardian familiarly proclaim 'comment is free, but facts are sacred'.  Yet what, in their invocation of Zionist CP Scott, was remotely 'sacred' or 'factual' about the message being presented by Wiesel? Why did the UK's 'leading radical paper' feel the need to accommodate such distortion?

Would it have printed such smears or hate-speech had it been a brazenly anti-Semitic advert, or, say, that which compared Israel to Nazi Germany?   

What the Guardian actually provided, in allowing this full-page spread, was respectable status for a virulent piece of hasbara. That kind of editorial permission is highly valued by Israel.

In a frank admission, the Guardian Readers' Editor Chris Elliott has concluded that the advert was, indeed, repugnant, and that, contrary to the justifications and decision of editor Alan Rusbridger to run it, he would not have approved:
I agree with the readers that whatever the intention, the biblical language, the references to child sacrifice, all evoke images of that most ancient of antisemitic tropes: the blood libel. The authors may believe that they have steered a careful course by aiming these matters at an organisation, Hamas, rather than all Palestinians, but the association is there. If an advertisement was couched in similar terms but the organisation named was the IDF rather than Hamas, I can’t imagine the Guardian would run it – I certainly hope it wouldn’t. I think that’s the issue.
But while Elliott's conclusion is commendable, and, perhaps, part of a damage limitation exercise, it's vital to note the reasons listed by Rusbridger for publishing the advert - advertisers' interests, Wiesel's 'public standing', other leading US titles had printed it, previous claims that Hamas had used children as shields, legal clearance on 'standards' and 'guidelines' - all corporate considerations and liberal posturings which tells us much about Rusbridger's 'morals' and the Guardian's priorities.    

The Guardian could, instead, have adopted a specific editorial defence of Gaza and Palestinian rights, refusing to be party to such propaganda. The ensuing 'row' would, no doubt, have guaranteed Wiesel's advert the same or even greater prominence. But at least the paper could have stood as an honourable ally, rather than - as with the dedicated platform its editors give to war criminal Tony Blair - a willing facilitator of Wiesel's toxic lies.  

With the British state media already giving so much loaded space to Israel, isn't there a vital need for that kind of moral positioning?

Consider, for example, the BBC's Wyre Davies interview with Israeli 'dove' Shimon Peres, in which, having listed Israel's 'bountiful legacy' in 'departing' Gaza,  Peres claimed that killing all those civilians in Gaza was "not our choice". It was 'Hamas's fault', he insists. It was Hamas, using children as human shields, that 'forced us to do it'.

Davies could only respond with a warning about the "danger of Israel losing its democratic tradition", and a question over whether it should now move to "finish Hamas". Beyond token reminders to Peres about the extent of civilian deaths, where was his serious challenge over the claim that Hamas had deliberately endangered children, causing all that killing?

Such omissions and circumvention reflect deeper 'imperatives' about Israel's 'vital security', 'self-defence' and 'provocation' over Hamas rocket fire.

The Guardian's Jonathan Freedland has been perniciously assertive in these regards, cajoling the reader towards viewing Gaza's destruction as a 'two-sided problem', planting the idea of 'equal Hamas culpability', appealing that we must comprehend Israelis' 'terrible fear' of Hamas tunnels, and repeating these kind of hasbara-friendly lines: 
And in the quiet years, when Hamas finally got hold of long-demanded concrete, it used it not to build bomb shelters for ordinary Gazans, but those tunnels to attack Israel, and bunkers for the organisation’s top brass.
The obscenity that such sparsely-permitted materials should actually be used for making bomb shelters at all seems not worthy of mentioning by Freedland.

In seeming 'balance', Freedland bewails Israel's turn to 'disproportionate military responses', a 'concern' framed primarily as such action being 'counter-productive to Israel's security'.

Whatever the 'humanitarian' undertones, the regret over lost lives, we can be reasonably sure that the suffering people of Gaza would take no comfort in these kind of anguished equivocations, or the vacuous Guardian editorials Freedland seemingly influences.
  
In their tortured rationalisations, Freedland and his fellow liberal commentariat help service the default-line story of Israel as the 'still-decent settler state', the 'plucky homesteader', 'reluctantly forced' to protect itself from hostile neighbours.

Ali Abunimah offers a fitting analogy:
As Joseph Massad observes, Israeli and American politicians, including Obama, frequently describe Israel as "living in a tough neighbourhood" where Iranian and Arabs "are the 'violent blacks' of the Middle East and Jews are the 'peaceful white folks.'" (Ali Abunimah, The Battle for Justice in Palestine, Haymarket Books, 2014, p9.)
In truth, observes Abunimah, Jews living in an apartheid, violence-defined Israel can never find either meaningful security or proper democracy, something that will, ultimately, only be realisable under "a single democratic and decolonized state" (ibid, p58).

Nor does this 'right of self-defence' even stand up to logical scrutiny. As Seumas Milne - perhaps the Guardian's only real critic, even if that still excludes open criticism of the Guardian itself - points out:
"Israel does not have a right of self-defence over territories it illegally occupies – it has an obligation to withdraw."
Yet, still we're fed the relentless myth that Israel left Gaza with 'benign intent', 'gifting all those greenhouses', all that 'goodwill infrastructure', to those 'thankless' Palestinians, who only went on to support Hamas and dig tunnels rather than 'use the opportunity' to turn the place into a 'Mediterranean paradise'.

As with Davies's indulgence of Peres, it's amazing how often this kind of crude propaganda is trotted-out without the mildest corrective from interviewers, or standard reminder that Gaza is subject to an illegal siege and ongoing state of occupation.

That's all routinely ignored in favour of the 'primary threat': those 'provocative' rockets from Hamas 'militants' - rather than Palestinian fighters - as 'impartially' labelled by the BBC.

There's little or no mention here that Hamas was originally supported by Israel as an expedient bulwark to Fatah. Forget, too, that Hamas has regularly intimated its approval of a 'two-state solution'. And, as Mondoweiss reminds us, while being denounced for rejecting an Egyptian-brokered truce in which they weren't even consulted, Hamas were, not for the first time, trying to construct a more durable one:
Much less noticed by the Western media was that Hamas and Islamic Jihad had meanwhile proposed a 10 year truce on the basis of 10 – very reasonable – conditions. While Israel was too busy preparing for the ground invasion, why didn’t anyone in the diplomatic community spend a word about this proposal? The question is all the more poignant as this proposal was in essence in line with what many international experts as well as the United Nations have asked for years now, and included some aspects that Israel had already considered as feasible requests in the past.
There's also that 'damning' Hamas Charter, as invoked by Freedland  - again, with liberal hubris. In truth, this outdated and rhetorical document is a virtual irrelevance to the much more complex realpolitik of Hamas, as intimated by Chomsky at Democracy Now:
Chomsky also addresses the widespread focus on the Hamas charter platform calling for the destruction of Israel. "The only people who pay attention to it are Israeli propagandists, who love it," Chomsky says. "It was a charter put together by a small group of people under siege, under attack in 1988. And it’s essentially meaningless. There are charters that mean something, but they’re not talked about. So, for example, the electoral program of Israel’s governing party, Likud, states explicitly that there can never be a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River. … And they don’t only have it in their charter, their electoral program, but they implement it."
Thus, we forever hear of Hamas's determination to create an 'Islamic state', but rarely the determination of Netanyahu, Likud and other Zionist fanatics to maintain Israel as an actual Jewish state. We hear constantly of Hamas's notional 'pledge' to 'drive Israel into the sea', but very little contextual mention of Israel's actual imprisonment of Gaza by land, air and sea. 

No endorser of Hamas, Mehdi Hasan has also expanded on the most prominent myths, distortions and misconceptions over Hamas and the current bombing of Gaza, including corroboration that while no serious evidence exists of Hamas using children as human shields, Israel are in regular, gross violation of such acts.

Beyond Freedland's superficial 'examination' and Davies's cloying questions, real analysis on Hamas politics and Israel's motives over Gaza abound across an alternative media. 

Dan Glazebrook, for example, offers the persuasive interpretation that Israel's real target is not Hamas at all - even if a key objective is to weaken its capacity. Rather, using the constructed 'provocation' over the killing of three Jewish settlers, the real purpose of the bombing has been to wreck any prospects of Palestinian statehood emerging from the current Hamas-Fatah rapprochement.

Yet, notes Glazebrook, even here:

despite its current ability to rip thousands of Palestinians to shreds on the flimsiest of pretexts, all is not well for Israel. Even their short term goals have not been met in this latest attack. Despite everything, the unity government has not broken, and Fatah and Hamas are currently presenting a united front in the ceasefire negotiations. Likewise, Hamas has not been defeated, even militarily (let alone politically) by this attack, and has been able to continue its military resistance right up until the beginning of the various ceasefires that have taken place.
As the latest 'ceasefire talks' proceed, once again it's Hamas, rather than Israel, that has sought ways of achieving a meaningful peace, again, quite rightfully, based on that most basic humanitarian demand: an end to Israel's illegal blockade.

With almost two thousand dead, over ten thousand more injured, and so many more displaced and traumatised amid a despairing landscape of decimated structures, how appallingly Gaza has suffered just to get Israel and the West to 'engage' on these most elementary conditions.

Die-in protest outside MoD building, Glasgow
While making sanctimonious calls for ceasefires and aid, Obama-Cameron 'diplomacy' still ensures the flow of arms and military equipment to Israel, a corporate-military mega-industry profiting from the slaughter of Gaza.

Following Vince Cable's feeble 'review' of UK licences, Campaign Against the Arms Trade and law firm Leigh Day are now challenging the British government's ongoing sale of military components to Israel.

All of which requires the US/UK and other protectors of Israel to keep issuing the 'Hamas menace' line as political cover.

Perversely, while this current attack on Gaza is intended to break the Hamas-Fatah unity government and further terrorise the population into submission, Israel and the West still need Hamas, battered but intact, in order to justify the military 'deterrent' and containment.  

This dominant, enduring message of Hamas as a 'terrorist organisation', rather than a democratically-elected government, is deeply imprinted in the media's own contorted framing - including that ugly Guardian advert.  Despite growing global condemnation of Israel, it's still an open-season vilification, one that even allows 'respectable' space to calls for Israel to murder Gaza's civilians just for being voters of Hamas

While the staggering scale and wickedness of Israel's violence is treated with effective impunity - 'it's a sovereign state, after all' - spineless editors and stenographer 'journalists' are still paying lip-service over 'Israel's security', while agonising over whether 'we' should even be speaking with, or recognising, Hamas.

Such is the reality of Israeli terrorism, Western subterfuge, and the media's sacrificing of truth over what's repeatedly deemed the 'darker Hamas threat'. Predictably, almost none of this is up for serious discussion at the Guardian or BBC.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Professor John Robertson: BBC's framing of bad news on Independence


For anyone still doubting the significance of media bias over the Scottish independence referendum, please watch Professor John Robertson's excellent film, The Bigger the Lie.
 
In particular, take note of Robertson's points on news headlining, sequencing, sourcing and more subtle imbalances in the setting of negative messages - including the particular demonisation of Alex Salmond.  
 
Robertson also offers some deeply-incisive observations on the media selection/promotion of 'independent', 'objective' 'experts', such as academics and policy figures, none of whom are free from subjective, ideological motivation.

Robertson's vital exposure of the BBC is reflective of a nascent independent media in Scotland, now making its mark by challenging the BBC, STV and mainstream press - as typified by highly-informed denunciations from Newsnet Scotland, and this direct indictment of The Scotsman from Derek Bateman.  

Addressing the crowd at the recent Yes protest against the BBC's biased independence coverage, Robertson also related how the Sunday Herald had decided not to publish his research, its editor trying to soothe the issue by asking him to come and "have a drink" and talk about the matter.
 
Robertson's response: "I told him to get stuffed."

It's a reminder that, while admirable comment on independence is coming from some at the Sunday Herald pages, like Ian Bell and Iain Macwhirter, there's still a notable establishment-protecting boundary in place.

In another such aside, Robertson described his letter to Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell asking why he had so nastily caricatured Alex Salmond. Bell wrote back calling him a "fatuous nationalist dupe".

As can be seen in Robertson's own declared hostility to reductionist nationalism, in favour of a leftist, progressive case for independence, such responses say much more about the pompous hostility of a metropolitan liberal media mired in its own delusional identity. 

Professor Robertson's valued research and insights have also been approvingly highlighted by Media Lens and reproduced at The Drum.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

BBC even more exposed after agreeing to air 2014 DEC Appeal for Gaza

Alongside other news networks, the BBC is to air a Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) Crisis Appeal for Gaza.
 
Though a welcome announcement, helping to bring desperately-needed relief to the suffering of Gaza, it only confirms the BBC's culpability for refusing the very same appeal in 2009.
 
As reported at BBC Online:
At the time, the BBC said it did not show the appeal "because of question marks about the delivery of aid in a volatile situation and also to avoid any risk of compromising public confidence in the BBC's impartiality".

The BBC Trust later backed the stance of former director general Mark Thompson, but said the BBC and other broadcasters should look again at their agreement with the DEC on when appeals should be screened.
As many will recall, the BBC's questioning of the DEC's ability to deliver such aid was utterly facile, as was the pretext of 'compromising' its 'impartiality'. Had the BBC ever doubted this aid organisation's abilities in any other volatile situation? Unsurprisingly, the Trust did endorse Thompson, the caveat on any any further DEC appeals included as token mitigation.   

Today's BBC report goes on:
In a statement, the BBC said it had taken "three issues" into consideration after being asked to broadcast the appeal for humanitarian assistance for civilians in Gaza.

"The disaster must be on such a scale and of such urgency as to call for swift international humanitarian assistance; the DEC agencies must be in a position to provide effective and swift humanitarian assistance at a scale to justify a national appeal; and, there has to be reasonable grounds for concluding that a public appeal would be successful," it said.

"We also have to consider our Charter obligation of due impartiality. After careful consideration we believe these criteria have been met."
So, what's different from 2009, when the appeal was based on the very same emergency needs, with little doubt then, as now, that the DEC were/are able to 'deliver' on all of the BBC's 'three issues'?

Isn't the real truth that in 2009 the BBC's decision was part of an institutional agenda to avoid legitimate criticism of Israel? None of that has changed. But, isn't the evolving truth in 2014 that the BBC, deeply shamed in 2009, just can't sustain that level of evasion now, and the public discontent that would go with any such refusal to allow this appeal?   
 
The BBC's readiness to allow air time on this occasion is a key indication of how rapidly public awareness is moving against Israel despite the ongoing protection still being offered by the UK establishment, of which the BBC is a vital part.

*Update
As documented by Amena Saleem, there's been some intimation that the BBC decided to air the DEC appeal "because of Israel’s admission that it’s a humanitarian crisis."

If so, this is more damning evidence that the BBC acts and rationalises its position according to Israel's own posturing. 

Thanks to Mary for posting Amena's discussion.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Warsi's going is a barometer of public feeling over Gaza

So, Foreign Office minister Baroness Warsi has resigned from the government.

With over 1800 people now slaughtered in Gaza, she tweets that she's now unable to support Cameron's ongoing overtures to Israel:
"With deep regret I have this morning written to the Prime Minister & tendered my resignation. I can no longer support Govt policy on #Gaza"
Warsi also said the government's:
"approach and language during the current crisis in Gaza is morally indefensible, is not in Britain’s national interest and will have a long term detrimental impact on our reputation internationally and domestically".
This is all good for the Palestinian cause. And well done to Warsi for taking such action - might others now reflect on putting their careers before speaking out about Gaza and other such crimes?

Boris Johnson has also condemned the killing, though still in terms of its negative impact on Israel:

"I am a passionate supporter of Israel. I cannot for the life of me see the purpose of this. It is disproportionate, ugly and tragic and will not do Israel any good the long run."
But seeing such senior figures worry and resign is indicative of how much the establishment now recognise a dangerous writing on the wall for Israel, and, most crucially, the gathering public mood.

Consider also how Miliband has decided to put Cameron 'on the spot' over Gaza, just as he opted to oppose the bombing of Syria. All of this comes after carefully weighing the strength of public feeling and evaluating whether it's worth the political risk.
 
Warsi's resignation should be seen in the same essential light.
 
Her departure and ostensible reasons for it - the humanitarian cost - are less notable than what it says about the gathering public awareness over Israel's criminal standing.
 
And that has all come from a bottom-up process, driven by the current outrage over Gaza and a more sustained level of social media-led campaigning.
 
In other words, the political stirrings we're seeing, even among senior Tories like Crispin Blunt - calling Israel's actions "war crimes", and even suggesting punitive sanctions - is a barometer of how seriously world feeling is now pushing against Israel.
 
As a Muslim, Warsi is well aware of the sensitivities of being part of a government so deeply involved in backing and arming Israel. Now free from the bonds of office, she has spoken more openly, calling for an arms embargo against Israel and regretting that the UK failed to support the Palestinian application for statehood at the UN.
 
So, why didn't she say all these things before? Gaza has been under siege for eight years now, subject to murderous attack every day, including deliberate violations of the 2012 ceasefire.  

Again, it's that same political calculation. Political elites may hold real humanitarian concerns and misgivings, but all that can sit in career safety so long as no major event brings it into public focus. Gaza has now done that for Warsi.    

The tipping point is coming for Israel. And when the day of reckoning comes, as it did for South Africa, many, like Warsi, will not want to be remembered for being on the wrong side of history.


*Note:
A comment in an earlier version of this text was erroneously attributed to Baroness Warsi, rather than Boris Johnson. Now corrected. 

Sunday, 3 August 2014

People Make Gaza - people of Glasgow stand with Palestine

George Square, Glasgow
(with a little People Make Gaza 'addition')

There was yet another tremendous turnout in Glasgow yesterday in support of the suffering people of Gaza.

Isn't it remarkable to think that, here in the heart of our Merchant City, while so many people are gathered from the furthest part of the Empire to enjoy the Games, the people of Gaza are under lock-down, not only being bombed, maimed and terrorised, but unable even to flee their slither of besieged land.

As yet another UN school crammed with civilians is assaulted, the third in ten days, it's been hard coming to terms with the horror of their situation.

Observing the images and imagining the terror, I still have feelings of incomprehension over how even such a ruthless, violence-addicted state could actually kill so many civilians, so many children, in UN refuges, schools and hospitals.

And with that sense of bewilderment, another question: how do they get away with it?

As Obama and Cameron issue their unctuous pleas for a ceasefire, forced to declare their grudging 'concern' over the humanitarian toll, the ships are still cruising into Haifa laden with US bombs and armaments for final, terrifying delivery into Gazans' homes. Disgracefully, Britain assists with drones, armoured vehicles, ammunition and other murderous technology.

And what, as despairingly, to be said of the BBC and wider media which, while relaying the terrible images from Gaza, still speak obsequiously of a 'two-sided war', still implying Palestinian blame, still failing to raise the key contextual issues of the occupation and siege? 


Just beyond George Square lies Nelson Mandela Place, an emblem of how Glasgow stood in solidarity during many of the darkest years of South African apartheid.

Yesterday, protesters stood in front of the City Chambers as a reminder of what has to be done now for occupied and apartheid-inflicted Palestinians, notably the adoption of real boycott and sanctions measures. 

While Glasgow council should be doing much more for Palestine, many of the city's people already are.

And their admirable support makes at least one thing clear and comprehensible to this writer: that there will - however desperate things seem for the people of Gaza and the West Bank - be a day of justice and liberation for Palestine, a day when innocents will no longer be bombed and murdered, but able to leave their imprisoned land, to travel and return with dignity to their homes, to have the same basic human rights as others.

Hopefully then many of them will stand here in our city as a welcome and free people.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Gaza: West's weasel words while the slaughter goes on

Gaza's hell on earth
The murder of Gaza goes appallingly on, with the wicked, wilful targeting of a UN school.
 
Ben White provides another morning update (via facebook):
According to ‪#‎Gaza‬'s MoH, Israel has killed 1,363 Palestinians and wounded a further 7,680 (as of 02.00 local time 31 July) - the death toll includes 315 children. Overnight attacks were significantly less intense than previous days. Wednesday, Israeli attacks killed an estimated 130, including 30+ victims of two separate strikes on a UN school and market. These incidents have only added to the growing chorus condemning Israeli war crimes - for example, Amnesty International yesterday stated that "artillery should never be used against targets in crowded civilian areas". Citing the UNHRC inquiry, Amnesty urged accountability for those responsible for war crimes. By Tuesday, Israeli strikes had damaged 133 schools & 23 health facilities; destroyed or damaged 8,590 housing units. The UN OCHA's latest briefing includes the following: "To 29 July, at least 68 families have lost three or more family members in the same incident, for a total of 360 fatalities; 140 men, 73 women and 147 children." Meanwhile, the Israeli military death toll reached 56 soldiers and officers (in addition to three civilian fatalities).
The US has 'condemned' Israel's bombing of the UN school. Predictably, their short, strangled words have been matched by precisely no political action against Israel. No emergency gathering of international allies to organise sanctions. No freezing of assets. No arms embargo.

Just imagine the response had this and other such massacres been carried out by Iran or Syria.
 
While US/EU sanctions are immediately slapped on Russia over MH17, Israel continues its mass atrocities with international impunity.     
 
And bear in mind that such 'condemnation' over the school bombing comes amid reports that Obama and Kerry are 'furious' with Netanyahu. As Jonathan Cook comments (facebook, 29 July 2014):
Look at this. The US is reported to be "fuming" at Israel's stinging personal criticism of John Kerry for his failed efforts to broker a ceasefire tailored precisely to Israel's "needs". So how does a fuming Washington respond, you know the one that is an honest broker in the peace process?

The Guardian quotes Tony Blinken, a senior White House national security advisor, "coming to Kerry's defence":

"Israel has no better friend, no stronger defender. No one has done more to help Israel achieve a secure and lasting peace."

Well, that put Israel in its place!

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/28/israel-gaza-us-ceasefire-diplomacy-criticism-kerry
The UN has also called Israel's attack on the UN school and murder of sleeping children "outrageous and unjustifiable", demanding "accountability and justice".
 
Noble words. But, again, will that 'outrage' ever translate to meaningful action against Israel? Might this and all the other atrocities perpetrated against children and other civilians, in schools, hospitals, markets and homes, result in an immediate referral to the International Criminal Court and call for sanctions?
 
What's the point of 'compassionate concern' when it's unmatched by determined efforts to stop the perpetrator of such crimes? 
 
Israel is engaged in a massive hasbara exercise to portray the attack on Gaza as a 'war on Hamas'.  And, despite their 'condemnations', Obama/Cameron and a 'critical' media dutifully project this key distortion.
 
Thus could the compassionate-speaking Jon Snow still berate Palestinian/Hamas official Osama Hamdan by demanding: 
 'They are only attacking you because you continue to attack them'. 

BBC reporter Ian Pannell's vivid report from the UN school was, likewise, deeply compromised by this astonishing line:
'The debate will begin immediately about who is responsible for this.'
Even in their endeavours to highlight the suffering in Gaza, Snow, Pannell and others help maintain the fiction of a 'two-sided war', rather than specify a desperate resistance against a siege and occupation which has the resilient support of Palestinians at large.
 
If it was a 'just' a war on Hamas, why blow up Gaza's only power station and other key infrastructure? If it was a purging of Hamas and the tunnels, why bomb all those hospitals? 
 
As Cook confirms, the dark truth is that the killing of civilians, particularly children, is actually a central part of Israel's plan, just as it was in 2008/9.

Regev and his co-propagandists must maintain the 'Hamas, not civilians' line for international appearance. But while the weakening of Hamas is vital, the real task is to kill as many civilians as possible, and terrify an entire people into submission.
 
The same murder and containment also continues across the West Bank, as people rage in the streets in solidarity with their fellow Palestinians in Gaza.
 
And in Israel too, writes Cook, the Palestinian minority are being increasingly targeted by vigilante mobs and experiencing new levels of political hatred in a massive backlash over Gaza. 
 
None of this mass murder and apartheid oppression will ever end without real action, rather than facile words. Gaza needs emergency aid. But suffering Palestinians also, just as urgently, need political aid to stop Israel, end the siege and break the occupation.

Yet, what prospect or worth of such 'assistance' from the US/UK, states up to their own necks in criminal militarism and the filthy arms economy that's helping to annihilate Gaza? 

As Ali Abunimah reports:
Hours after Israel shelled yet another UN school sheltering internally displaced families and a marketplace in Gaza, killing dozens of people, an unnamed defense department official revealed to CNN that the US had approved an Israeli request to tap into the one billion dollar weapons stockpile the US keeps in Israel.
Where's all the compassionate journalists ready to challenge Western politicians on that side of the 'war' in Gaza?

Monday, 28 July 2014

Jon Snow on Gaza - worthy compassion, but where's the context?

Jon Snow has made a compassionate statement on the terrible suffering in Gaza, based on what he's just witnessed there.
 
In another moving blog piece, he also, on the plane back to London, reflects on his own degrading treatment when crossing the checkpoint back into Israel, and all he'd seen of Gaza's pain, experiences unprecedented in his journalistic career, causing him to weep.
 
This is admirable, honest comment, and, as Gaza is being mercilessly bombed, welcome output for those doing all they can to highlight and support the Palestinian cause. 
 
So it seems churlish to somehow rain on Snow's parade, and all those approving him. But how much of this deeply sincere feeling is being matched by the essential effort to explain why that suffering is going on?
 
During his first appearance back doing Channel 4 News, Snow pondered the seeming despair at getting a ceasefire, and wondered whether the US is 'any longer' serving the role of 'honest broker'.

Listening to that casual aside should have brought a real moment of clarity for viewers, a realisation that while Snow is saying worthy things about Israel's gross humanitarian violations, he's saying virtually nothing about how they're managing to get away with it through continued US/Western support.

This is not just a 'facet' of the 'conflict'. It's central to understanding why the occupation, siege, settlements and overall misery for Palestinians goes relentlessly on. And yet, it's forever politely circumvented.  
 
Snow was also keen to point out the gross mis-match in each sides' capabilities, noting that, while Gaza has nothing to resist Israel's vast air power, Israel has the 'brilliant' Iron Dome defence system, financed by the US. 

Again, having partially alluded to US military aid, it was a moment which could have been used to develop real contextual discussion of the US as Israel's murderous patron in giving it $3 billion every year. Instead, Snow proceeded with the usual speculations on what Kerry's diplomatic endeavours might achieve.       
 
In his video piece, Snow speaks of a necessary 'preparedness to listen, and watch and read'.

But surely journalists like Snow must also have a duty to read and watch and listen to what's long been recorded about the true reasons for the murder of Gaza.

And if he did,  it wouldn't, with dutiful moral heart, take much additional effort to amplify the truth that America is not an 'honest broker'. It is financing and backing Israel to the hilt. Therefore, it's the problem.

I've been watching good people across social media these past days, outraged over Israel's killing, asking others to help make Snow's video and blogs go viral. And why shouldn't they/we show this war on children, in helping to shame Israel and bring maximum attention to Palestinian suffering?

But just imagine the impact of such output if it was accompanied by Snow probing US/UK political elites and developing critical exchange on this essential question:
Why has America been allowed to portray itself for so long now as an 'honest broker', when, in fact, it's acting primarily in Israel's expansionist military and political interests?
And here's another for good measure:
Why have we, the media, permitted and contributed to this gross illusion of the US as 'benign facilitator' for so long?
Snow and Emily Maitlis on Newsnight are among the very few to have 'taken-on' Mark Regev recently. And that's commendable. But we're at a point of rising awareness now over Israel's shameless criminality that locking horns with Regev is no longer the same 'badge' of brave interviewing.

Real bravery would be in taking-on the Obama/Kerry/Cameron 'diplomatic' circle and indicting them over their own centrally criminal roles in allowing the murder of Gaza and Palestine to continue.     
 
Alas, neither the content of Snow's blog or his video made it to the Channel 4 News programme. If even that kind of compassionate dispatch can't slip past the commissioning editor, what chance, or willingness, of telling these real vital truths?