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Military-industrial-media complex ‘rewrites’ the Gaza war

Published Nov 7, 2010 11:25 PM

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, the main U.S. media-watch organization, charges that the country’s two top newspapers, after this year’s attack by Israel on ships bringing aid to Gaza, suddenly “misremembered” what had happened in the 2008-2009 Gaza war. FAIR says the New York Times and the Washington Post “propagated an inaccurate historical context that serves to bolster Israel’s claims.” (June 21)

These newspapers are the most prestigious in the country. The New York Times sets the news agenda for the rest of the media.

What did they do?

Throughout the coverage of Israeli’s May 31 attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, during which Israeli commandos killed nine people, these newspapers repeated as fact Israel’s bogus claims that it had begun its three-week onslaught on Gaza in December 2008 because Hamas was firing rockets into Israel.

Before the Gaza war, however, both newspapers had debunked this claim.

A Dec. 19, 2008, New York Times article by Ethan Bronner reported that Hamas had been “largely successful” in seriously curtailing rocket fire from Gaza. “Hamas imposed its will and even imprisoned some of those who were firing rockets,” wrote Bronner. An editorial in the Nov. 2, 2008, Washington Post said that, thanks in part to “a cease-fire deal with Hamas, Israel has been more peaceful in recent months than it has been in years.”

FAIR said, “Part of Israel’s strategy of defending its attack on the humanitarian flotilla has been to stress the dangers posed by Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip.” By taking it upon themselves “to rewrite relevant history,” the “Times and Washington Post gave this Israeli government argument credibility.”

A look at the casualty figures for the three-week war reveals where the “danger” really came from. The Palestinian jurists’ organization al-Haq reported that the Israeli military killed more than 1,400 Palestinians, 83 percent of them civilians, including 355 children. In those three weeks a total of 13 Israelis died. Four were killed by Palestinian rockets, three of them civilians. An additional nine Israeli soldiers were killed in Gaza, four of them by Israeli “friendly fire,” according to the Israeli government.

Other major media who ‘forgot’

The Times and Washington Post were not the only major media to conveniently “forget” the facts behind Israel’s punishing onslaught on Gaza and warp them to provide justification for Israel’s later killing of nine people on ships delivering humanitarian aid to Gaza. FAIR also cites CNN, USA Today, Fox News, NBC Nightly News, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Dallas Morning News for media rewrites of the Gaza war.

These media, FAIR says, downplayed Palestinian civilian deaths, the anguish of the survivors and the suffering caused by the destruction of Gaza’s infrastructure. They covered the deaths as merely “a public relations problem for Israel.” They also denied that an ongoing humanitarian crisis had been created by the bombing and blockading of Gaza. These newspapers, television networks and radio shows even blamed the Palestinian organization Hamas for Israel’s destruction of Gaza. (fair.org media advisories of January and March 2009)

While the establishment media occasionally report the real details of Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people, this coverage is sporadic at best. There is certainly no consistent attempt to be “fair” or to “give both sides.” On the contrary, the real relationship of forces — repeated, unprovoked Israeli aggression versus Palestinian measures of self-defense — if reported on at all, is quickly dropped by all the corporate media for a revision of history favoring the Israeli regime and vilifying the Palestinians. This revision is repeated again and again, at all levels of the media.

Israeli lobby doesn’t ‘control’ U.S. media

Why has it been nearly impossible for the Palestinian people to get fair coverage in the establishment media?

Some say it is because Jewish people or the Israeli lobby “control” or “unduly influence” U.S. media outlets. But this is not the case. The real force behind this biased reporting is the huge aggregate of U.S. corporations that pull in mind-boggling profits from exploiting Middle East resources.

ExxonMobil, for example, the wealthiest company in the world, with important Middle East holdings in oil and natural gas, had revenues of $477 billion in 2008. (CNNMoney, Jan. 30, 2009) It is only one of the U.S. oil giants operating in the Middle East. Meanwhile, Israel’s entire gross domestic product that same year was $205 billion.

The oil companies and other U.S. corporations are calling the shots and the Israeli state works for them. What is Israel’s job? To be a watchdog for the oil companies.

Soon after the establishment of Israel, one of its most important newspapers wrote that “strengthening Israel helps the Western powers maintain equilibrium and stability in the Middle East. Israel is to become the watchdog. There is no fear that Israel will undertake any aggressive policy towards the Arab states when this would explicitly contradict the wishes of the U.S. and Britain. But if for any reason the Western powers should sometimes prefer to close their eyes, Israel could be relied upon to punish one or several neighboring states whose discourtesy to the West went beyond the bounds of the permissible.” (Ha’aretz, Israel’s newspaper of record, Sept. 30, 1951)

These U.S. corporations don’t mind if Israel is blamed for the anti-Arab bias in the U.S. media establishment. It hides their own role. The corporate media help obscure the real relationship of forces.

Bamboozling the public

The major media are welded to this corporate network in what has become a military-industrial-media complex. The media’s “job” is to keep the U.S. public from seeing that a few individuals and corporations reap billions of dollars by exploiting the people of the Middle East and bombing and blockading Gaza. These super-rich hate and fear the national liberation struggles, especially the Palestinian struggle, because the Israeli state, which ousted and replaced Palestine, serves U.S. finance capital so well.

The corporate media have a profit motive, too. They get ads and financial sponsorship from giant corporations. They have interlocking directorates with oil, arms and other companies that profit from Middle East occupations and wars. They use their vast conglomerates of newspapers, magazines, networks and entertainment companies to promote a political climate that favors profit-taking and to censor out news that interferes with that. The big media eagerly self-censor if it furthers their burning cause — making more money.

In 2008 ExxonMobil made $1,300 in profits every second. For the military-industrial-media complex, this trumps the truth about Palestine.

To be continued.