Monday, 20 October 2008

Israeli murder squads and other "hooliganism"

From West Bank pogroms to assassination programs, systematic campaigns are being waged by settlers and 'off-duty' soldiers to eliminate Palestinians. Yet, little detail or close analysis seems forthcoming from a stick-to-the-copy media.

In a recent pogrom, West Bank settlers from Yitzhar were filmed firing on Palestinians in the nearby village of Asira al Qabaliya. No serious police or state action against these settlers - thought to have strong ties to the banned Jewish National Front, Kach movement and other 'extremist' groups - seems imminent. In similar vein, settler raids on olive harvesters and murder squad activity is increasing, but the deep-rooted extent of these purges are receiving only nominal nods from the mainstream Western media.

The BBC's online coverage of the settler attack on Asira al Qabaliya offered dutiful quotes on outgoing Israeli PM Ehud Olmert's vocal denunciations of the "pogrom", but carefully refrained from calling the settlers “militants” and “terrorists” - labels, it seems, exclusively reserved for Palestinians.

When, one wonders, might the BBC guideline-setters start using such language to describe settler and other such paramilitary activity?

Perhaps they and other media hierarchies worry that such an inclusion might only highlight the inconvenient truth that there's no fundamental difference between this murderous Jewish 'underground' and the government's/IDF's own ethnic cleansing and conspiracy to extinguish its opponents.

With escalating terror attacks now extending to 'fellow Jews', Israel is having to 'confront' this awkward spectre of 'unregulated' terrorism. As reported by Jonathan Cook, this includes 'worrying statements' even from senior Israeli army figures on the rise of settler lawlessness.

Yet, if the irony of the military's own brutal lawlessness seems lost on these 'concerned' commanders, a more subtle treatment of the problem is evident within the liberal Israeli media, where it gets filtered as a 'worrying issue for Israeli democracy'.

For example, in this Jerusalem Post piece, US and Israeli Jewish groups are taken-to-task for not acknowledging settler “hooliganism”:

“The growing violence by haredi zealots and vigilante settlers against fellow Jews as well as Arabs threatens to explode in Israel but gets scant attention here. Yet it could be a greater threat to Israeli democracy than the Islamist zealots. Olmert has warned that this "evil wind of extremism, of hatred, of malice... threatens Israeli democracy." And it is being ignored by the American Jewish establishment.”

It seems a noble commentary. Yet, such condemnations are really an exercise in isolating the 'bad settler hooligans', while protecting the 'good state' version; a respectable delineation which helps maintain the 'integrity' of 'Israeli democracy', the Occupation and Tel Aviv's 'peace agenda'.

In short, it's a reading which proclaims the protection of Palestinians from 'deviant zealots', while turning a blind-eye to the much darker villainy of Israeli politicians and their military assassins.

As detailed by Cook, the BBC and other Western media largely take their cues from this kind of 'self-examining' Israeli media picture:

"In fact, more than 95 per cent of the reports filed by Britain's distinguished correspondents in Jerusalem originate in stories they have seen published either by the world's two main news agencies, Reuters and Associated Press, or in the local Israeli media."

Again, it's a consensual Western/Israeli reportage which is willing to note and condemn settler “extremism”, yet carefully avoids equating it with the violent policies and practices of the Israeli state and its army of Occupation.

Like the state's coy concerned inaction over the settler pogroms and murder squads, the media response has been a similar dependable copy of safe, inactive criticism.


1 comment:

Julia Riber Pitt said...

It's so apparent, that the Israeli settlers are allowed to get away with their crimes all while the Palestinians are de-humanized by "the system", as they put it. To say that there is any such equality in Israel or the West Bank between Israelis and Arabs is total crap, and these articles prove it.