27 December 2008: a day that should live in infamy - and would if the BBC and its media peers were doing their rightful job.
Instead, the massacre of Gaza is being reported as an essentially 'understandable' show of Israeli force in the face of Palestinian 'provocation'.
With over 270 Palestinians slain in this latest act of mass murder, the perpetrators and their 'international apologists can always depend on a servile media to rationalise such state terrorism. The early evening BBC News (27/12/08) even had Jeremy Bowen - the BBC's most 'critical' correspondent - telling viewers how Israel was effectively acting in self-defence.
It's the template media context: Israel responds to attacks from Hamas, never Hamas responds to Israel's brutal and violent siege.
The (since updated) Ha'aretz version, likewise, announced:
"Israel launched Saturday morning the start of a massive offensive against Qassam rocket and mortar fire on its southern communities, targeting dozens of buildings belonging to the ruling Hamas militant group."Ha'aretz and other press were rather coy in emphasising that the buildings in question were police stations, part of Gaza's civic 'infrastructure' - or what passes for that term in this annihilated piece of earth. Imagine the media response had Israeli police stations been targeted. The bombing of Palestinian police offices, on the other hand, can seemingly pass without the slightest comment.
The 'failed truce' provides another rationalisation for Israeli aggression. As Ali Abunimah puts it:
What the media never question is Israel's idea of a truce. It is very simple. Under an Israeli-style truce, Palestinians have the right to remain silent while Israel starves them, kills them and continues to violently colonize their land. Israel has not only banned food and medicine to sustain Palestinian bodies in Gaza but it is also intent on starving minds: due to the blockade, there is not even ink, paper and glue to print textbooks for schoolchildren.
As John Ging, the head of operations of the United Nations agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA), told The Electronic Intifada in November: "there was five months of a ceasefire in the last couple of months, where the people of Gaza did not benefit; they did not have any restoration of a dignified existence. We in fact at the UN, our supplies were also restricted during the period of the ceasefire, to the point where we were left in a very vulnerable and precarious position and with a few days of closure we ran out of food."
That is an Israeli truce. Any response to Israeli attacks -- whether peaceful protests against the apartheid wall in Bilin and Nilin in the West Bank is met with bullets and bombs. There are no rockets launched at Israel from the West Bank, and yet Israel's attacks, killings, land theft, settler pogroms and kidnappings never ceased for one single day during the truce. The Palestinian Authority in Ramallah has acceded to all of Israel's demands, even assembling "security forces" to fight the resistance on Israel's behalf. None of that has spared a single Palestinian or her property or livelihood from Israel's relentless violent colonization. It did not save, for instance, the al-Kurd family from seeing their home of 50 years in occupied East Jerusalem demolished on 9 November, so the land it sits on could be taken by settlers.
Once again we are watching massacres in Gaza, as we did last March when 110 Palestinians, including dozens of children, were killed by Israel in just a few days. Once again people everywhere feel rage, anger and despair that this outlaw state carries out such crimes with impunity.
Abunimah also has strong words for the Egyptian government's shameful collaborations:
But all over the Arab media and internet today the rage being expressed is not directed solely at Israel. Notably, it is directed more sharply than ever at Arab states. The images that stick are of Israel's foreign minister Tzipi Livni in Cairo on Christmas day. There she sat smiling with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Then there are the pictures of Livni and Egypt's foreign minister smiling and slapping their palms together.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported today that last wednesday the Israeli "cabinet authorized the prime minister, the defense minister, and the foreign minister to determine the timing and the method" of Israel's attacks on Gaza. Everywhere people ask, what did Livni tell the Egyptians and more importantly what did they tell her? Did Israel get a green light to turn Gaza's streets red once again? Few are ready to give Egypt the benefit of the doubt after it has helped Israel besiege Gaza by keeping the Rafah border crossing closed for more than a year.
Meanwhile, the 'international community' - that homely Western invention of global togetherness - speaks 'decisively' about wanting an end to violence. How touching. Blair calls for a ceasefire. How very admirable. It's all part of the decent inaction intended to 'show concern' over the loss of Palestinian civilians while backing Israel's right to kill them.
The posturing hypocrisy of the diplomatic class and their media acolytes seemingly knows no bounds. Israel claims to be acting in 'necessary defence' and Brown, Merkel, Sarkozy and Obama nod in dutiful compliance. There's not even a caveat criticism about 'proportionality'.
The murder is going on today, with renewed 'air strikes'. They're called 'air strikes' by the media and political class because that gives the mass murder a respectful tone; part of the sanitised vernacular reserved for state-instructed carnage. 'Air strikes' to 'target militants' in 'response to' the 'the ongoing threat' of 'deadly' Qassam rockets.
But, of course, Israel is a democracy, just like us. Unlike them. It may, on occasion, act a little 'excessively' in making its point. But it must still be supported.
Except that it isn't a meaningful democracy. It's an apartheid state engaged in violent ethnic cleansing and the ruthless purging of criticism, internal and external.
The recent treatment of UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk is a case in point. Falk, an American Jew and eminent professor, has described how he was detained and humiliated at Ben-Gurion airport before being sent back on a plane to the US for daring to criticise Israel. That even a senior UN-appointed person, acting in due accordance with the law, can be treated as a subversive is a clear signal of Israel's intolerance. Was there ever a blacker sign of Israel's claim to be an open and tolerant democracy?
Such purges also signal a failure to convince. As with the expulsion of Falk, the wanton elimination of Palestinian lives before the eyes of the world illustrates an increasingly desperate effort to sustain the unsustainable. The Gaza massacre might be cloaked in respectful language. But neither a pliant media nor Israel's complicit political friends can hide the true extent of its systematic cruelty inside the human laboratory of Gaza.