Tuesday, June 1, 2010

And the Beat Goes On

Though they perpetrate more than their share of outright falsehood, a lot of what is wrong with corporate media is distortion, tone, and viewpoint.

A good example of what I'm talking about is this AOL.com post, "Commando Raid May Be Strategic Blow to Israel Itself." Joseph Schuman, Senior Correspondent, writes that the attack "may have played right into the hands of Hamas and the Islamist Palestinian group's principal sponsor, Iran." It would be nice if Israel's malfeasance were to backfire, but what about the people Israel just killed, and for that matter what about the Palestinians? No, it's all about Israel, and a little later it's all about Obama too. This writer makes it clear right off the bat which side he's on.

He laments that "even the most moderate Palestinian leaders [are] unwilling to talk to Israel," and that Obama's "international effort to impose tough new United Nations sanctions on Iran over its suspect nuclear program is now likely to be overshadowed by a Middle East agenda dominated by the Israeli raid for weeks or months to come." Considering Israeli rejectionism and the manifest falsehood of Obama's charges against Iran, these are not necessarily bad outcomes.
Israel has enforced the blockade of Gaza partly in response to the rockets regularly fired from there into Israel since 2007, when the militant group Hamas gained control of the territory.
First, rockets were not "regularly fired into Israel" -- the assaults were sporadic at most -- and Hamas has stopped them from being fired into Israel at all for the past couple of years, even after Israel's vicious attack on Gaza at the end of 2008. If that were the rationale for the blockade, it no longer exists. (If violence against civilians justified a blockade, by the way, Israel should have been blockaded decades ago.) And Hamas actually "gained control of the territory" by winning the 2006 elections, for which the Palestinians were harshly punished by the US and Israel. The US and Israel then encouraged the other Palestinian faction, Fatah, to attempt a coup against Hamas. The coup failed. But all this, as Noam Chomsky would say, cannot be acknowledged in the official media.

Once the passengers resisted with force, Netanyahu said, "our soldiers had to defend themselves."

As I have said before, aggressors and murderers have no right of self-defense. The legal situation, as John Caruso writes, is clear enough.

But the footage of slingshots and the marbles they launched are just as likely to be used as propaganda by Hamas to argue the passengers faced a David-vs.-Goliath fight against the heavily armed Israelis.

It isn't just Hamas who will use that footage as "propaganda"; after all, the video was intended to be Israeli propaganda, but it may have backfired. The world just doesn't understand that a civilian with a slingshot is Goliath, and an Israeli soldier with an automatic weapon is David.
Other details of the flotilla may point to what seems to be a clear mission of provocation, such as the inclusion among passengers on the Mavi Marmara of "women, children, and the elderly, all of whom are organizers," as a correspondent for Al Jazeera reported before communication from the ship was cut.

But the consensus of international opinion was overwhelmingly against Israel.
It couldn't possibly be, could it, that Israel was in the wrong and that the consensus of international opinion (often appealed to by US propaganda against Iran and North Korea) might just be right for once? And I'm not entirely clear as to how including "women, children, and the elderly, all of whom are organizers," constitutes a "mission of provocation." By this logic, establishing a Jewish state in the Middle East, including women, children, and the elderly, would have to be seen as a mission of provocation.

Aside from the misrepresentations about Hamas, then, there are few outright lies in this article. It's the way that the writer takes for granted that gallant little Israel and her ally Barack are the good guys, beset by "propaganda" and "missions of provocation" as they engage in "self-defense" and try to bring peace to the Middle East.

P.S. This post at FAIR.org details more distortions elsewhere in the corporate media's coverage of the attack, and quotes Glenn Greenwald: ""Just ponder what we'd be hearing if Iran had raided a humanitarian ship in international waters and killed 15 or so civilians aboard."

Incidentally, at the United Nations (via) the US has blocked a strong condemnation of the attack by Turkey:

The Obama administration refused to endorse a statement that singled out Israel, and proposed a broader condemnation of the violence that would include the assault of the Israeli commandos as they landed on the deck of the ship.

It's only to be expected, of course, given Obama's enthusiastic support for Israeli crimes, but that doesn't make it less appalling.