Selected Articles

How Western media bias allows Israel to getaway with murder in Gaza

Ramzy Baroud

November 16, 2019

An Israeli attack on Gaza was imminent, and not because of any provocations by Palestinian groups in the besieged, impoverished Gaza Strip. The Israeli military escalation was foreseeable because it factors neatly in Israel’s contentious political scene. The war was not a question of “if”, but “when”.

The answer came on November 12, when the Israeli military launched a major strike against Gaza, killing an Islamic Jihad Commander, Bahaa Abu al-Ata, along with his wife Asma.

More strikes followed, targeting what the Israeli military described as Islamic Jihad installations. However, the identities of the victims, along with damning social media footage, pictures, and eyewitness accounts indicate that civilians and civilian infrastructure were bombed and destroyed as well

As of November 14, when a truce was announced, 32 Palestinians have been killed and over 80 wounded in the Israeli aggression.

What truly frustrates any meaningful discussion on the horrific situation in Gaza is the feeble response, whether by international organisations that exist with the sole purpose of ensuring world peace or by Western mainstream media, that ceaselessly celebrates its own accuracy and impartiality.

A most disappointing response to the Israeli violence was offered by Nickolay Mladenov, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process.

Mladenov, whose job should have long been deemed pointless considering that no “peace process” actually exists, expressed his “concern” about the “ongoing and serious escalation between Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Israel”.

Not only Mladenov’s statement creates a moral equivalence between an occupying power, which instigated the war in the first place, and a small group of a few hundred armed men, it is also dishonest.

“The indiscriminate launching of rockets and mortars against population centres is absolutely unacceptable and must stop immediately,” Mladenov elaborated, putting great emphasis on the fact that, “there can be no justification for any attacks against civilians”.

Shockingly, Mladenov was referring to Israeli, not Palestinian civilians. At the time that his statement was released to the media, there were already dozens of Palestinian civilians that had been killed and wounded, while Israeli media reports spoke of few Israelis who had been treated for “anxiety”.

The European Union did not fare any better. The EU parroted the same American knee-jerk response by condemning “the barrage of rocket attacks reaching deep into Israel”.

“The firing of rockets on civilian populations is totally unacceptable and must immediately stop,” a statement by the European bloc read.

Is it not possible that Mladenov and top EU foreign policymakers do not truly comprehend the political context of the latest Israeli onslaught  –  that embattled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is using military escalation as a way of fortifying his weakening grip on power.

Considering this, what is one to make of the poor media coverage, the inept analyses and the absence of balanced reports in major Western news media?

In a report published by the BBC on November 13, the British broadcaster referred to “cross-border violence between Israel and militants in Gaza”.

But Gaza is not an independent country and, per international law, it is still under Israeli occupation. Israel declared Gaza a “hostile territory” in September 2007, arbitrarily establishing a “border” between it and the besieged Palestinian territory. For some reason, the BBC finds this designation acceptable.

CNN, on the other hand, reported on November 13 that “Israel’s military campaign against Islamic Jihad” is entering its second day, while emphasizing the UN condemnation of the rocket attacks.

CNN, like most of its American mainstream counterparts, reports on Israeli military campaigns as a part and parcel of some imagined “war on terror”. Therefore, analyzing the language of US mainstream media with the purpose of underlining and emphasizing its failures and biases, is a useless exercise.

Sadly, US bias regarding Palestine has extended to mainstream media in European countries that were, to some degree, fairer, if not somewhat sympathetic, with the Palestinian peoples’ situation.

El Mundo of Spain, for example, spoke of a number of Palestinians – making sure to emphasize that they were “mostly militants”, – who “died” as opposed to “were killed” by the Israeli military.

 

“The escalation followed the death of Gaza’s armed branch leader,” El Mundo reported, failing once more to pinpoint the culprits in these seemingly mysterious deaths.

La Repubblica, which is perceived in Italy as a “leftist” outlet, sounded more like a rightwing Israeli newspaper, in its description of the events that led to the death and wounding of many Palestinians. The Italian newspaper used a fabricated timeline that only exists in the mind of Israeli military and decision-makers.

“Violence continued. Several rockets were thrown towards Israel by Gaza’s Islamic Jihad (militants), breaking the brief truce, according to (rightwing Israeli newspaper) The Jerusalem Post and to the Israeli army”.

It remains unclear what “truce” La Repubblica was referring to.

France’s Le Monde followed suit, reporting the same deceptive and cliched Israeli lines and emphasizing statements by the Israeli military and government. Interestingly, the death and wounding of many Palestinians in Gaza did not deserve a place on the French newspaper’s homepage. Instead, it chose to highlight a comparatively irrelevant news item where Israel denounced the labeling of illegal settlement products as “discriminatory”.

Maybe, one could have excused these across-the-board journalistic and moral failings if it were not for the fact that the Gaza story has been one of the most covered news topics anywhere in the world for over a decade.

It is obvious that the West’s “newspapers of record” have maintained their blindspot on fairly reporting on Gaza and intentionally kept the truth from their readers for many years so as not to offend the sensibilities of the Israeli government and its powerful allies and lobbies.

While one cannot help but bemoan the death of good journalism in the West, it is also important to acknowledge with much appreciation the courage and sacrifices of Gaza’s young journalists and bloggers who, at times, are targeted and killed by the Israeli army for conveying the truth on the plight of the besieged but tenacious Strip.

Original Article Link

 

 

Israelis just voted for occupation – stop pretending they want peace

Israelis have just voted in favour of continuing to deny all Palestinians, between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, equal rights.

September 28, 2019

Asa Winstanley

Israel’s election results are in. In terms of narrow party-focused politics, the results were inconclusive. The two main electoral lists resulted in a near draw.

According to the final vote tally, the Blue and White electoral alliance – led by two former Israeli generals and an ex-TV news presenter – ended narrowly ahead with 33 seats in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.

But they were only a single seat ahead of the ruling Likud Party of the current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who won 32 seats.

Nonetheless, the Israeli president has just provided Netanyahu with the first opportunity to form a government, since the incumbent obtained more recommendations from incoming lawmakers overall.

But in terms of what the elections mean for the indigenous people of Palestine, this vote concluded with an emphatic result. Israelis have just voted to continue to permanently impose their racist military occupation regime upon millions of Palestinians.

Liberal Zionists in the UK and the US, when criticised for their support for Israel, quite often take a defensive posture claiming that they oppose “the Netanyahu government.”

Many have been on social media in recent weeks, praying for the downfall of Netanyahu. They also sometimes claim to oppose “the occupation” stating that they work for a “two-state solution” to “the conflict.”

But all that is just so much sophistry.

It is to ignore the reality of the Zionist regime and what it means for Palestinian lives.

The truth is that Israelis have overwhelmingly just voted in favour of continuing the occupation forever.

Israelis have just voted profoundly in favour of continuing the violent, racist, military dictatorship that the Israeli military imposes on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, indefinitely.

Israelis have just voted in favour of continuing to deny all Palestinians, between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, equal rights.

And Israelis have just voted unquestionably in favour of continuing to permanently deny Palestinian refugees their internationally recognised legal rights to return to their homes, in present day Israel.

These are the cold hard facts of this most recent Israeli election – as indeed, in every Israeli election.

All Zionist parties in the Knesset, oppose ending the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Only the Joint List – an alliance of parties led by politicians who are mostly Palestinian Arabs – called for an end to the occupation. Even the so-called “left wing” Zionist party Meretz (now part of the Democratic Union list), did not issue a statement claiming that they would end the occupation.

The Joint List did reasonably well, winning 13 seats. But even that means that only almost 11 per cent of citizens of Israel voted to end the occupation of any Palestinians at all.

It means that more than 89 per cent of Israeli citizens voted to keep 5.3 million Palestinians living under the boot of their military dictatorship, forever denying them the most basic human and political rights.

For all the cant of the Western liberal Zionists about “Israeli democracy,” the fact is that none of those 5.3 million people have a vote in the elections for the only government that really controls every aspect of their daily lives – purely, and simply, because they are not Jewish.

None of these are the actions of a democracy. This is an apartheid regime – an ethnocracy.

As the Palestinian intellectual, Diana Buttu, put it this week (in an interview which you can watch in the video above), there is no real difference for Palestinians between Netanyahu and the leader of the Blue and White list – former Israeli general, Benny Gantz.

As Buttu explained, the latter is “a man who even when individuals said that all that they were demanding was equality, came out and said very succinctly he does not at all believe in equality. On the issue of Gantz versus Netanyahu, when it comes to Palestinians, they are exactly identical.”

In his election campaign this year, Gantz repeatedly boasted of how many Palestinians he has killed during wars he has led. His election videos gloated that in the 2014 war, he had bombed parts of Gaza back to the “stone ages”.

When Netanyahu unveiled his plan to annex large swathes of the West Bank this month, rather than condemning him, Gantz too explained that the Jordan Valley would forever remain under Israeli military occupation.

All of this means that anyone campaigning in favour of Palestinian rights, has to face up to a stark reality – the vast majority of Israelis support the occupation. They do not oppose it, as is often claimed.

The figure of 89 per cent of Israelis in support of the occupation, is extremely conservative. A majority of the less than 11 per cent, who voted for the Joint List, will have been Palestinian citizens of Israel.

It is true, that a small minority of dissident Israeli Jews are against the occupation and for equality – just as how in apartheid South Africa, there was a small dissident minority of the white settler population who opposed – and even fought against – the white supremacist regime there.

But we have to face up to this simple fact. Just as was the case with white South Africans – the vast majority of Israelis are never going to vote away their privileges under Israel’s racist system.

Full equality will have to be imposed upon them.

That means isolating Israel’s apartheid regime, by supporting the Palestinian struggle for freedom, equality and return using boycott, divestment and sanctions.

 

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect our policy.

 

Source: Middle East Monitor

Trump, Kushner and Netanyahu are hellbent on destroying the two-state solution – the EU must not let them

Beth Oppenheim and Luigi Scazzieri

August 2, 2019

This week, Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and his team have been touring the Middle East to push his new $50bn economic plan, unveiled in Bahrain last month. The proposals aim to open the West Bank and Gaza to regional and global markets, developing the Palestinian economy. The US administration claims that within 10 years this strategy would double Palestinian economic output.

While the US maintained the launch of the plan was a success, it received scathing press coverage and little recognition by the international community. Crucially, neither the Palestinian Authority (PA) nor the Israeli government were represented, and other important players like the EU, Egypt and Jordan only sent low-level delegations.

Trump has promised the “deal of the century” to solve the Israel-Palestinian question, but so far only Kushner’s economic plan has emerged. None of Kushner’s proposals can work without knowing the outlines of a political settlement. His plan deliberately ignores the realities on the ground, failing to mention Israel’s occupation of the West Bank or its blockade of Gaza.

The Israeli occupation is the main obstacle to Palestinian economic development. In 2013, the World Bank found that restrictions in the Israeli-controlled parts of the West Bank cost the Palestinian economy $3.4bn per year, or 35 per cent of gross domestic product in 2011. Little has changed since. And the blockade of Gaza has left the strip in a permanent humanitarian crisis.

US policy is already eroding the prospects for the two-state solution, which is enshrined in several UN resolutions. Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s Middle East peace envoy, have made clear they are not committed to the international consensus. Instead, US policy under Trump has overtly favoured Israel while turning the screws on the Palestinians: the US has recognised the whole of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved its embassy there from Tel Aviv, and recognised Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights.

At the same time, Trump has ended US support for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), cut US bilateral aid to the Palestinian Authority, and closed the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s office in Washington. As a result, the US has lost credibility with the Palestinians as a neutral broker of peace.

The US’s silence on Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank could embolden right-wing Israeli politicians to annex parts of the West Bank. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already promised to pursue annexation, in order to win support from the hard-right. This would permanently fragment Palestinian territory – making a viable, contiguous Palestinian state impossible – inflame tensions across the region, and fan extremism in both the West Bank and Gaza.

 

The EU should limit the potential for Kushner’s economic package to further undermine the two-state solution, which remains the most realistic, mutually acceptable resolution to the conflict. The EU operates a “differentiation” policy towards Israel: settlement entities are excluded from its research programme, and member-states are supposed to label goods produced in settlements. But these measures are weak and poorly implemented. Netanyahu’s threats of annexation should prompt the EU to strengthen its differentiation measures, for example by barring European banks from carrying out financial transactions with people or businesses in the occupied territories.

Full Article here

EU now funds Israel’s war ministry

David Cronin

Two years ago, Benjamin Netanyahu was heard complaining that the European Union was “crazy” for attaching “political conditions” to its relations with Israel. By the prime minister’s yardstick, matters have become less “crazy” since then: the EU has quietly expanded the financial support it gives to Israeli government bodies directly responsible for oppressing Palestinians.

Israel’s defense ministry has just begun drawing down European Union cash for the first time.

It is among the beneficiaries of a new $9 million research scheme on using drones during disasters. Known as Respondrone, the scheme is being financed under the EU’s science program Horizon 2020.

The “political conditions” of which Netanyahu complained are respect for basic human rights. By providing money to Israel’s defense ministry, the EU is helping out a major human rights abuser.

If the English language was used accurately, the defense ministry would be called the ministry for war crimes and occupation.

It is tasked with strengthening Israel’s army. In other words, the ministry is dedicated to making an extremely aggressive army even more lethal.

Not content with occupying the West Bank and Gaza, Israel’s army has bombed Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Sudan since the beginning of this millennium – when the EU supposedly began applying those “crazy” conditions. Israel has also killed Turkish humanitarian activists in international waters.

Subsidizing the ministry which oversees that army is tantamount to approving its crimes.

The Respondrone project kicked off in May. The following month the EU’s embassy in Tel Aviv held a ceremony to celebrate how Israel’s researchers have received more than $820 million from Horizon 2020.

Curiously, the material for the event posted on the embassy’s website does not mention that the EU is now funding Israel’s defense ministry.

Read the full article here.