Monday, 19 November 2012

Messaging the blame over Gaza

As the death toll in Gaza continues to mount, it's clear that, as in 2008/9, much of the public is being subjected to a highly-distorted set of messages over who is primarily to blame for the conflict.

At the most generalised level, political and media 'presentation' of the issue serves to instill four basic points of 'understanding':

1. The Palestinians are to blame for initiating rocket attacks on Gaza.
2. Hamas brought the killing on itself and Palestinian civilians by starting the conflict.
3. Israeli bombing is a legitimate response to Hamas provocation.
4. Israel is merely defending itself from attack.

A second, more 'liberal', set of interpretations, no less false or hand-wringing, can also be discerned:

1. Israel and Hamas are both guilty of creating the conflict.
2. Both sides are to blame for prolonging it.
3. Both sides are engaged in an intractable war.
4. Neither side has any interest in a truce.

Even where some of these commonly-pitched messages, or elements thereof, are questioned, the cumulative effect is, at the very least, to cast the Palestinians as 'largely responsible' and to remove the taint of Israel as principal aggressor.

Crucial in the distortion is the selective omission of key detail and core context. Thus, most of the public will be unaware that, as in the attacks of 2008/9, Israel deliberately broke an agreed ceasefire, allowing the killing to escalate, while the actual, central cause of the conflict - Israel's illegal occupation and brutal siege - will not remotely figure in mainstream reporting or discussion.

Nor are we encouraged to consider the possibility that Israel actually welcomes Palestinian resistance.  If Hamas, or any faction, hadn't been engaged in rocket fire, Israel would have found a way of pressing them towards violence. That's because Netanyahu needs the political cover of 'threat-and-fear' to keep him protected, while the Israeli military need the same pretext in order to wield their pre-emptive stick and keep Gaza/Hamas in check.

These and many more incisive facets of the deceit are contained in the brilliant analysis from Jonathan Cook:

Why Gaza Must Suffer Again

If only the BBC and other establishment media permitted a fraction of such honest, informed reporting.


Some further reading from 2009 on the same themes:
The Four Big Lies of Palestine-Israel Media Coverage
Six facets of bias: letter to the BBC

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