Hilfe & Kontakt

Reporting Israeli Gov Assault Through the Israeli Gov's Eyes

Von: Dan Clore (clore@columbia-center.org) [Profil]
Datum: 06.06.2010 21:59
Message-ID: <4C0BFE04.5030707@columbia-center.org>
Newsgroup: soc.rights.human alt.politics.socialism alt.politics.radical-left alt.activism alt.society.anarchy alt.anarchism alt.fan.noam-chomsky alt.politics.libertariantalk.politics.libertarian
News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:

Media Advisory
Reporting Israeli Assault Through Israel's Eyes
Attack on humanitarian flotilla prompts little media skepticism

On May 31, the Israeli military attacked a flotilla of boats full of
civilians attempting to deliver humanitarian supplies to the Gaza Strip.
Reports indicate that at least nine and as many as 16 of the activists
on board were killed, though details remain sketchy due to Israel's
censorious limitations on media coverage. Much of the U.S. media
coverage has been remarkably unskeptical of Israel's account of events
and their context, and has paid little regard to international law.

The New York Times (6/1/10) glossed over the facts of the devastating
Israeli siege of Gaza, where 1.5 million people live in extreme poverty.
As reporter Isabel Kershner wrote, "Despite sporadic rocket fire from
the Palestinian territory against southern Israel, Israel says it allows
enough basic supplies through border crossings to avoid any acute
humanitarian crisis."

Asking Israel to explain the effects of its embargo on the people of
Gaza makes little sense, especially when there are plenty of other
resources available. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs reported (IRIN, 5/18/10):

As a consequence of Israelís blockade of the Gaza Strip, 98 percent of
industrial operations have been shut down since 2007 and there are acute
shortages of fuel, cash, cooking gas and other basic supplies....

Water-related health problems are widespread in the Strip because of the
blockade and Israel's military operation in Gaza, which destroyed water
and sanitation infrastructure, including reservoirs, wells, and
thousands of kilometres of piping....

Chronic malnutrition has risen in Gaza over the past few years to reach
10.2 percent....

In Gaza, Israel's blockade is debilitating the healthcare system,
limiting medical supplies and the training of medical personnel and
preventing serious medical cases from travelling outside the Strip for
specialized treatment.

Israel's 2008-2009 military operation damaged 15 of the Strip's 27
hospitals and damaged or destroyed 43 of its 110 primary healthcare
facilities, none of which have been repaired or rebuilt because of the
construction materials ban. Some 15-20 percent of essential medicines
are commonly out of stock and there are shortages of essential spare
parts for many items of medical equipment.

Those facts, though, aren't persuasive to everyone. The Washington
Post's June 1 editorial page had one of the most appalling takes on the
killings: "We have no sympathy for the motives of the participants in
the flotilla--a motley collection that included European sympathizers
with the Palestinian cause, Israeli Arab leaders and Turkish Islamic

Many of the analysis pieces in major papers focused on the fallout for
Israel and the United States, rather than the civilians killed or the
humanitarian crisis they were trying to address. The Post's Glenn
Kessler (6/1/10) framed the U.S. response, not the Israeli attack, as
the complicating factor: "Condemnation of Israeli Assault Complicates
Relations With U.S." Kessler lamented, "The timing of the incident is
remarkably bad for Israel and the United States," while a Los Angeles
Times account (6/1/10) called the raid "a public relations nightmare for
Israel." The New York Times' Kershner wrote (NYTimes.com, 5/31/10) that
"the criticism [of Israel over the attack] offered a propaganda coup to
Israel's foes, particularly the Hamas group that holds sway in Gaza."

Other news accounts presented misleading context about the circumstances
leading to Israel's blockade. Kershner (New York Times, 6/1/10) stressed
that "Israel had vowed not to let the flotilla reach the shores of Gaza,
where Hamas, an organization sworn to Israel's destruction, took over by
force in 2007." The Associated Press (6/1/10) reported that "Israel and
Egypt sealed Gaza's borders after Hamas overran the territory in 2007,
wresting control from Abbas-loyal forces"--the latter a reference to
Fatah forces affiliated with Mahmoud Abbas.

Both accounts ignore the fact that Hamas won Palestinian elections in
2006, which led the United States and Israel to step up existing
economic restrictions on Gaza. An attempt to stoke a civil war in Gaza
by arming Fatah militants--reported extensively by David Rose in Vanity
Fair (4/08)--backfired, and Hamas prevailed (Extra!, 9-10/07).

Much of the U.S. press coverage takes Israeli government claims at face
value, and is based largely on footage made available by Israeli
authorities--while Israel keeps the detained activists away from the
media (not to mention from lawyers and worried family members). The
Washington Post (6/1/10) reported the attack this way:

Upon touching down, the Israeli commandos, who were equipped with paint
guns and pistols, were assaulted with steel poles, knives and pepper
spray. Video showed at least one commando being lifted up and dumped
from the ship's upper deck to the lower deck. Some commandos later said
they jumped into the water to escape being beaten. The Israeli military
said some of the demonstrators fired live ammunition. Israeli officials
said the activists had fired two guns stolen from the troops.

As Salon.com's Glenn Greenwald wrote (5/31/10): "Just ponder what we'd
be hearing if Iran had raided a humanitarian ship in international
waters and killed 15 or so civilians aboard."

The Times' June 1 report included seven paragraphs of Israel's account
of what happened on board the Turkish ship, the Mavi Marmara, where the
civilians were killed; the paper reported that "There were no immediate
accounts available from the passengers of the Turkish ship" because the
Israeli base they were taken to "was off limits to the news media and
declared a closed military zone."

The Times piece also showed little interest in international law,
mentioning Israel's claim regarding the legality of their actions but
providing no analysis from any international law experts to support or
debunk the claim: "Israeli officials said that international law allowed
for the capture of naval vessels in international waters if they were
about to violate a blockade."

According to Craig Murray (5/31/10), former British ambassador and
specialist on maritime law, the legal position "is very plain": "To
attack a foreign flagged vessel in international waters is illegal. It
is not piracy, as the Israeli vessels carried a military commission. It
is rather an act of illegal warfare."

Dan Clore

New book: _Weird Words: A Lovecraftian Lexicon_:
My collected fiction: _The Unspeakable and Others_
Lord Weÿrdgliffe & Necronomicon Page:
News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:

Skipper: Professor, will you tell these people who is
in charge on this island?
Professor: Why, no one.
Skipper: No one?
Thurston Howell III: No one? Good heavens, this is anarchy!
-- _Gilligan's Island_, episode #6, "President Gilligan"

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