[sixties-l] Fwd: Media spin remains in sync with Israeli occupation

From: radman (resist@best.com)
Date: 10/16/00

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    >Media spin remains in sync with Israeli occupation
    >By Norman Solomon
    >October 13, 2000
    >The formula for American media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian
    >conflict is simple: Report on the latest developments in the fragile
    >"peace process." Depict U.S. officials as honest brokers in the
    >negotiations. Emphasize the need for restraint and compromise instead of
    >instability and bloodshed.
    >In the world according to news media, the U.S. government is situated on
    >high moral ground -- in contrast to some of the intractable adversaries.
    >"The conflict that had been so elaborately dressed in the civilizing cloak
    >of a peace effort has been stripped to its barest essence: Jew against
    >Arab, Arab against Jew," the New York Times reported from Jerusalem.
    >Soon afterwards, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright proclaimed: "The
    >cycle of violence has to be stopped." Such pronouncements from Washington
    >get a lot of respectful media play in our country.
    >Rarely do American journalists explore the ample reasons to believe that
    >the United States is part of the oft-decried cycle of violence. Nor, in
    >the first half of October, was there much media analysis of the fact that
    >the violence overwhelmingly struck at Palestinian people.
    >Within a period of days, several dozen Palestinians were killed by heavily
    >armed men in uniform -- often described by CNN and other news outlets as
    >"Israeli security forces." Under the circumstances, it's a notably
    >benign-sounding term for an army that shoots down protesters.
    >As for the rock-throwing Palestinians, I have never seen or heard a single
    >American news account describing them as "pro-democracy demonstrators."
    >Yet that would be an appropriate way to refer to people who -- after more
    >than three decades of living under occupation -- are in the streets to
    >demand self-determination.
    >While Israeli soldiers and police, with their vastly superior firepower,
    >do most of the killing, Israel's public-relations engines keep whirling
    >like well-oiled tops. Early this month, tilted by the usual spin, American
    >news stories highlighted the specious ultimatums issued by Prime Minister
    >Ehud Barak as he demanded that Palestinians end the violence -- while
    >uniformed Israelis under his authority continued to kill them.
    >Beneath the Israeli "peace process" rhetoric echoed by American media, an
    >implicit message isn't hard to discern: If only Palestinians would stop
    >resisting the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, it would no longer be
    >necessary for Israeli forces to shoot them.
    >"Israel Extends Time For Peace," said the lead headline on the Oct. 10
    >front page of USA Today. "Israel early today extended a deadline for
    >Palestinians to end rioting," the article began. At this rate, we may
    >someday see a headline that reads: "Israel Demands Palestinians Stop
    >Attacking Bullets With Their Bodies."
    >Of course, amid all the nifty Orwellian touches, the proper behavior of
    >people whose homeland remains under occupation has never quite been
    >spelled out. But U.S. media coverage has reflexively mimicked the themes
    >coming out of the White House and State Department. It all makes sense --
    >as long as we set aside basic concepts of human rights -- as long as we
    >refuse to acknowledge that without justice there can be no real peace.
    >For American journalists on mainstream career ladders, it's prudent to
    >avoid making a big deal about Israel's human rights violations, which
    >persist without letup in tandem with Israel's occupation of land it
    >captured in the 1967 war. Many pundits are fond of cloaking the occupiers
    >in mantles of righteousness. And we hear few questions raised about the
    >fact that the occupiers enjoy the powerful backing of the United States.
    >The silence is usually deafening, even among journalists who write opinion
    >columns on a regular basis. The U.S. government's economic and military
    >assistance to Israel adds up to a few billion dollars per year. Among
    >media professionals, that aid is widely seen as an untouchable "third
    >rail." To challenge U.S. support for Israel is to invite a torrent of
    >denunciations -- first and foremost, the accusation of "anti-Semitism."
    >Occasionally, I've written columns criticizing U.S. media for strong
    >pro-Israel bias in news reporting and spectrums of commentary. Every time,
    >I can count on a flurry of angry letters that accuse me of being
    >anti-Semitic. It's a timeworn, knee-jerk tactic: Whenever someone makes a
    >coherent critique of Israel's policies, immediately go on the attack with
    >charges of anti-Jewish bigotry.
    >Numerous American supporters of Israel resort to this tactic. Perhaps the
    >difficulties of defending the Israeli occupation on its merits have
    >encouraged substitution of the "anti-Semitic" epithet for reasoned debate.
    >Like quite a few other Jewish Americans, I'm appalled by what Israel is
    >doing with U.S. tax dollars. Meanwhile, as journalists go along to get
    >along, they diminish the humanity of us all.
    >"Ask not for whom the bell tolls."
    >Norman Solomon's book "The Habits of Highly Deceptive Media"
    >won the 1999 George Orwell Award for Distinguished Contribution
    >to Honesty and Clarity in Public Language, presented by the National
    >Council of Teachers of English.
    >Norman Solomon's archived columns may be found at

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