Palestine coverage through 4 Mar 08

One week has elapsed since the last article summary posted and what a week it has been! Israel managed to kill dozens of civilians in this short period while simultaneously pulling off another of its great PR triumphs, recharacterizing as *defensive* its military attack on a jam-packed tiny strip of land densely populated with trapped refugees possessing no defensive capacity of their own. One of the world’s most sophisticated armies is confronted with the equivalent of gerry-rigged molotov cocktails and responds by pounding the entire civilian population into the ground. Of course per Alan Dershowitz (publishing in today’s WSJ) there is no such thing as a civilian Palestinian or Lebanese, and indeed I would guess on his reasoning there are no Arab civilians more generally if said Arabs are in Israel’s cross-hairs. By his definition, a Palestinian, Lebanese or other Arab killed by Israel is a militant. Well, that’s not the take of B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights group, reporting on the tally of death from Israel’s mindless onslaught of last week — but more on that below.

Today’s selection starts with an astonishing journalistic sleight of hand. Let’s bring our critical faculties to bear on the New York Times’ choice of headline, aping the storyline provided by the Israeli government. Apparently it is not Israel but Palestinian militants who are seen as escalating the conflict over Gaza. It is not “Operation Warm Winter” and the Israeli wanton killing of civilians from air and land, but the appearance of “at least eight imported Katyusha rockets” that represents escalation. Amazing. Does anyone even know the names of the missiles, rockets and airfire that Israel rained down on Gaza? I am guessing much of that weaponry was also imported…and guess from where? Well, not from southern Lebanon anyway. Obviously, if one took the time to parse the mainstream media’s black-is-white, day-is-night reporting on Israel-Palestine, it would take hundreds of pages of commentary a day. But it is worth noting these little spin tricks every once in awhile.

So, the tally from Israel’s “Gaza operations” is 110 dead (this is a conservative, Israeli estimate) and hundreds more wounded (100 wounded just from the March 2nd strike that killed 54). Abbas suspended talks with the Israelis for all of a day — today he is already back with an offer to broker a truce between Hamas and Israel. The Israelis, though, are in no mood for brokering anything — vowing more and more vicious strikes (it is like shooting fish in the barrel — how do we label the atrocity of imprisoning a population of refugees in a tiny area and then striking them with aerial attacks? Vilnai had a suggestion; take a look at item 14 below, if you want to revisit Vilnai’s media savvy formulation). As if to reward Abbas for his immediate about-face on talks with Israel, Olmert took the opportunity to declare that Israel will continue its Gaza operations despite the apparent pull-out today and that he is fighting the “Gaza-fication” of the West Bank. Apparently the Gaza-fication of the West Bank is not yet complete so the full weight of Israel’s military might will not be brought down on the heads of the Palestinians living in their little cantons in the West Bank until after operations in Gaza are complete. Of course, in the interim there are still plenty of settlers on the West Bank ready to take a pot-shot at Palestinian civilians (see, e.g., item 12 about the murder of a Palestinian teen by a settler near Ramallah below).

In the meantime, what of Annapolis? The Herald Tribune joins a chorus of other coverage declaring its demise. More revealing yet is Hasan Abu Nimah’s piece in the Jordan Times, noting the total absence of common sense from current Israeli policy and then assessing the current vogue for looking for replacements for Abu Mazen to play out the same role of stooge. He properly analyzes the attempt to spring Marwan Barghouthi from his imprisonment as a political prisoner in Israel, manufacturing a Palestinian Nelson Mandela made-to-order by his Israeli captors. As Abu Nimah points out, Barghouthi and all the political prisoners should be released, but not to do the bidding of their jailers.

Following on the theme of epigraphs for Annapolis the week began with Abu Mazen declaring there will be no peace if there is not peace in 2008. In a matter of a week it is apparent that the formula can be reduced to there-will-be-no-peace. It is worth noting, however, that the week began with peaceful protest in Gaza — unarmed Gazan civilians forming a human chain in protest of the Wall. Some of the coverage of that initiative (lost, of course, in the din of media coverage of Palestinian “militants) is included in the selection so we not lose sight completely of the constructive efforts on the Palestinian side to find nonviolent avenues in the midst of the carnage. See, for instance, Meron Benvenisti’s piece (15) or the New York Times coverage (28).

There are a few astonishing headlines below worth noting: “to be in favour of peace is not anti-Israeli” or “most Muslims desire ‘democracy'”. These truisms are presented as news, of course, because they seem newsworthy as a counterpoint to the torrent of propaganda of the variety that would make the reverse of these obvious statements seem more plausible. A tribute, again, to the use of language in most media coverage of the region and the Israel-Palestine conflict. This is a point that is made very effectively by Yonatan Mendel in his diary for the London Review of Books, which has already been posted to Khaldoun earlier this week, but I have included a link to that piece in this selection (18) as a reminder that the manipulation of language in the coverage of the conflict is far from accidental and that the coverage of the conflict is just an extension of the conflict from the Israeli perspective.

This was also a week that saw the ongoing effects of the declaration of independence by Kosovo. Any chance that such a move might be replicated for the Palestinians was immediately shutdown as intolerable. Still, Walid Awad provides a useful meditation on the question (16) and Costa Rica’s attempt to extend diplomatic recognition to Palestine (30) suggests the meaning of the path not taken.

As media and international scrutiny turned to the attack on Gaza this week, it is worth noting that Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank and Jerusalem continued apace. Several articles in this selection take up the obvious inverse relationship between continued settlement activity and the desire for Israeli security. That so long as Israel continues its colonization of Palestinian land it will face the same security dilemma should be obvious, but in another propaganda success the Israeli framing of the discourse obscures the obvious. Nonetheless, the report of UN special rapporteur in the OPT makes clear that occupation and settlement is the source of Palestinian militancy (25), while Yossi Alpher calls for recognition of the integral relation between settlements and security (23) and Hagit Ofran reports on the ongoing colonization of Palestine despite these insights (20).

In other news covering the constants of the Israeli-Palestinian equation is an article noting the Israeli decision not to investigate the killing of 21 Palestinian civilians in November 2006. What is rightly identified as the Israeli culture of impunity is explored in coverage that I was only able to find in the Australian press (27). There is also the usual demographic threat coverage this week of Palestinian population growth (22) and the usual kowtowing to Israeli demands, whether by Europe (item 33 below covers the negotiation of a new trade deal between the EU and Israel despite evidence that the Israelis regularly send goods produced in settlements, in violation of EU law) and by American presidential candidates (this time Obama advisor Samantha Power was up to mouth the party line on not putting pressure on Israel).

34 articles to commemorate a week of carnage. Let’s hope for better news this coming week.

_____________________________________________________

1. ISRAEL SEES ESCALATION IN GAZANS’ LONGER-RANGE STRIKES
By Isabel Kershner
New York Times
March 3, 2008

2. B’TSELEM: MORE THAN 50% OF GAZA CASUALTIES WERE NOT MILITANTS
Haaretz (Israel)
March 3, 2008

3. GAZA FIGHT GOES ON AS ISRAEL PULLS BACK
By Josef Federman
Associated Press
March 3, 2008

4. ISRAEL VOWS MORE GAZA STRIKES AFTER DEADLY BLITZ
By Sakher Abu El Oun
AFP
March 3, 2008

5. ABBAS SAYS WILLING TO ADVANCE ISRAEL-HAMAS CEASEFIRE
By Ali Waked
AFP / YNet (Israel)
March 3, 2008

6. OLMERT: WE MUST CONTINUE GAZA OPS
By Sheera Claire Frenkel
Jerusalem Post (Israel)
March 3, 2008

7. THOUSANDS RALLY ACROSS MIDEAST TO PROTEST IDF ATTACKS ON GAZA
Associated Press
March 3, 2008

8. ON THE PATH TO BITTER DISAPPOINTMENT
By Uzi Benziman
Haaretz (Israel), Opinion
March 3, 2008

9. ANOTHER MIDEAST PEACE PLAN SLIPPING AWAY
International Herald Tribune
March 3, 2008

10. ‘RESTRAINT’ IS DECEITFUL, AND ‘FORBEARANCE’ IS VAIN
By Gideon Levy
Haaretz (Israel)
March 1, 2008

11. ABBAS BREAKS CONTACT WITH ISRAEL
BBC (UK)
March 2, 2008

12. SETTLER KILLES PALESTINIAN TEEN NEAR RAMALLAH
By Aviram Zino
Ynet (Israel)
March 3, 2008

13. KILLED WHILE THEY PLAY FOOTBALL, THE CHILD VICTIMS OF ISRAEL’S REVENGE ON GAZA
By Donald Macintyre
The Independent (UK)
February 29, 2008

14. ISRAELI MINISTER WARNS PALESTINIANS OF ‘HOLOCAUST’
Reuters
February 29, 2008

15. AN EXPLOSIVE, DANGEROUS BALANCE
By Meron Benvenisti
Haaretz (Israel)
February 29, 2008

16. KOSOVO AND PALESTINE: WHY DIFFERENT STANDARDS?
By Walid Awad
Arab News (Saudi Arabia), Opinion
February 29, 2008

17. TO BE IN FAVOUR OF PEACE IS NOT ANTI-ISRAELI
By Donald Macintyre
The Independent (UK)
February 28, 2008

18. DIARY
By Yonatan Mendel
The London Review of Books
March 6, 2008

19. THE FADING JIHADISTS
By David Ignatius
New York Times , Opinion
February 28, 2008

20. STILL BUILDING
By Hagit Ofran
In The Baltimore Sun , Opinion
February 28, 2008

21. ISRAELI INTRANSIGENCE
By Randa Takieddine
Dar Al Hayat (Lebanon), Opinion
February 28, 2008

22. PALESTINIANS MULL A MAJORITY
By Joshua Mitnick
The Washington Times
February 27, 2008

23. INTEGRATE SETTLEMENTS AND SECURITY
By Yossi Alpher
Bitterlemons , Opinion
February 27, 2008

24. MOST MUSLIMS ‘DESIRE DEMOCRACY’
BBC (UK)
February 27, 2008

25. UN REPORT CALLS PALESTINIAN TERRORISM RESULT OF OCCUPATION
By Bradley S. Klapper
Associated Press
February 27, 2008

26. DRIFTING FURTHER FROM THE PATH OF COMMON SENSE, REALISM AND PEACE
By Hasan Abu Nimah
The Jordan Times (Jordan), Opinion
February 27, 2008

27. ISRAELI ARMY ACCUSED OF TURNING A BLIND EYE
By Ed Oloughlin
The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)
February 27, 2008

28. GAZANS DEMONSTRATE AT BORDER AGAINST ISRAELI BLOCKADE
By Isabel Kershner
The New York Times
February 26, 2008

29. UN: ISRAEL, PA, EGYPT MUST FIND NEW STRATEGY TO END GAZA CRISIS
Deutsche Presse Agentur (Germany)
February 26, 2008

30. ISRAEL: RECOGNITION OF ‘PALESTINE’ STATE BY COSTA RICA SPARKS DIPLOMATIC ROW
Adnkronos international (Italy)
February 26, 2008

31. ABBAS: PEACE IN 2008 OR NEVER
Associated Press
February 25, 2008

32. ISRAEL’S HAMAS PREDICAMENT: SHOOT OR TALK
By Tobias Buck
The Financial Times (UK)
February 25, 2008

33. EUROPE: HEADING FOR A NEW SECURITY DEAL WITH ISRAEL
By David Cronin
Inter Press Service (IPS)
February 22, 2008

34. OBAMA’S TOP ADVISOR SAYS DOES NOT BELIEVE IN IMPOSING A PEACE SETTLEMENT
By Shmuel Rosner
Haaretz (Israel)
February 25, 2008

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One Response to Palestine coverage through 4 Mar 08

  1. Raffe says:

    The Iranian-made missiles smuggled though Egypt have been terrorizing Sderot for almost eight years now. A conservative estimate states that over 2,500 missiles have rained down on the Israeli town at an average of between 10-20 per day. A state of the art warning system along with reinforced kindergartens and bomb shelters have managed to keep the death toll to a minimum. It was only when the missiles began hitting Ashkelon that the Israeli government decided to act. I note that you described the armies of HAMAS and Islamic Jihad as ‘having the equivalent of gerry rigged molotov cocktails’ however nothing could be further from the truth.
    The HAMAS militants are armed to the teeth with both Russian and American made weaponry that were captured from the Palestinian (Fatah) police forces during the coup last year which ended with HAMAS throwing their opponents off rooftops.
    Whilst the death toll is tragic this battle has been a long time coming. Despite Israel’s disengagement from the Gaza strip in 2005 they are still met with missile attacks on a civilian populace. The prime responsibility of any government is the protection of it’s citizens and that is all Israel is doing.

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