I've alluded in earlier posts to the ms media's tendency to self-censor by way of caving in to the Israel lobby's demand for faux balance. The Israel/Palestine dynamic is hammer to anvil, fighter jet to stone, in every respect asymmetric. This includes the volume of media coverage devoted to both sides. When, for example, did you last hear a Palestinian voice on the ABC? As opposed to oleaginous and omnipresent Israeli flak-catcher, Mark (Black is White) Regev. And yet, even when a Palestinian perspective makes it into the ms media, it cannot be allowed to stand alone.
Take today's (28/1/08) The Age, for example. On the letter's page we have two letters about The Great Gaza Breakout. The Age titles say it all:-
In Israel's defence... Mick Stone, Bentleigh
...and for the Palestinian case Dora McPhee, Parkville
Then, in the same issue, two op-ed pieces:-
No easy solution while Hamas keeps warring by Fania Oz-Salzberger*
Palestinians suffer as the world fails Gaza by Michael Shaik*
This is a false balance.
Mick Stone's plaint: "If The Age is about balance, how is it that we never see the results of any of the 4200 rockets recently fired at Israeli civilians from Gaza..."
Fania Oz-Salzberger's: "We are not blind to the plight of innocent Palestinians, but no one is naive enough to think that militants are not busy shopping too, for the next qassam [sic] rocket and the next suicide bomb."/ "...the Hamas government under Ismail Haniye simply deleted peace from its dictionary."/ "Why...should Israelis care about Gaza's children?...Seeing them flock out of their claustrophobic strip, free for a fleeting moment, Palestinians do touch Israeli hearts, even if terrorists are enjoying an Egyptian market day, too."
Get the picture? A pile of poo: gross exaggeration (4200 rockets), crocodile tears (Palestinians do touch Israeli hearts), falsehoods (Hamas deleted peace), and weasel words (militants/terrorists).
Anyone who dares contest the Israeli master narrative, and actually makes it into the ms media, must expect to be dogged by a malign, mendacious, nay-saying doppelganger, a sort of Mark Regev clone, whose task it is to distract the reader and neutralise his message. A bit, if you will, like being served two plates at a restaurant: one, the meal you ordered, the other, a steaming great pile of ordure. The result is, of course, predictable.
Lest you think I exaggerate, sample this from the UK's Independent of 27/1/08: "Yehuda Shaul is a religious Israeli who served in the army. Now he runs guided tours highlighting the abuse of Palestinians [in Hebron]...Shaul is seeking to demonstrate to his visitors that the settlements and the formidable military apparatus which protects them have violated the human rights of the Palestinians who live - in what was once the teeming Arab city centre. But his every footstep is dogged by another religious Jew conducting a non-stop monologue designed to drown out Shaul's explanation of what his visitors are seeing." [A rough guide to Hebron: The world's strangest guided tour highlights the abuse of Palestinians]
*Fania Oz-Salzberger is professor and Leon Liberman chairman of modern Israel studies at Monash University. Whatever happened to Middle East studies?
* Michael Shaik is the public advocate for Australians for Palestine.