Saturday, June 7, 2008

Assisting Pillagers

Image © Yaser AhmedThe Associated Press can always be relied upon to facilitate the economic, military, and political rape of defenseless people by imperial powers. They are the most prolific source of contrived controversy, myopic context, factual omissions, and general disinformation in favor of state tyranny and aggression against common people everywhere.

Nowhere is that prowess more evident than in AP news wire reports out of the Middle East—namely, Jerusalem and Gaza City. A few such reports from the 5th and 6th of June combine to form a microcosm of how AP depicts Palestinian life and property as being of lesser value than Israeli life and property.

The report from the 5th is titled "Israel: Hamas mortar shell attack kills 1." [1]

I'm not sure why, but I get a funny feeling that Israelis helped craft the report. In any case, the story, under the byline of a Mr. Josef Federman in Jerusalem, begins:

Hamas militants fired a barrage of mortar shells into southern Israel on Thursday, killing one person and wounding three others on a communal farm near the border with the Gaza Strip, Israeli officials said. . . .

The attack is "part of our continuous confrontation and response to the Zionist invasions along the eastern borders of the Gaza Strip," Hamas said.

What Hamas is referring to here is what AP and corporate media have been purposefully concealing.

Beginning late last month, the IDF invaded Gaza in helicopters, bulldozers, and tanks—leveling Palestinian trees and farmland, rounding up and kidnapping Palestinian farmers, and killing others who resisted the illegal aggression.

On May 28, Xinhua news agency reported on one such invasion:

Two Palestinians were killed and at least eight others wounded Wednesday morning during Israeli raids in southeast Gaza Strip, witnesses and hospital officials said. . . . Bolstered by the tanks and air cover, the Israeli bulldozers were leveling land and destroying green houses, the residents said. [2]

In a June 5th MWC editorial, Dr. Elias Akleh elaborates further:

Latest major raid was conducted on Tuesday June 3rd where seven Israeli tanks and one military bulldozer crossed the northern border of Gaza, attacked farmers and razed their farm land.

On Sunday June 1st ten Israeli tanks and five military bulldozers, covered with Apache helicopters, raided city of Khan Younes, razed large areas of farm lands destroying all crops, and withdrew after engaging Palestinian resistance fighters. On May 30th fifteen Israeli tanks and two military bulldozers invaded the Furta suburb of Beit Hanoun, razed its farm land destroying crops, rounded up men ages 16 to 60 years old in the center of town, and kidnapped at least 60 of them across the border. The Israeli terrorist army, air force, and gunboats shell Gaza’s cities daily. During the month of May alone the Israeli terrorist forces had murdered 45 Gazans mostly children under the age of eighteen. [3]

Those are heinous war crimes against civilian objects. [4] Is it any wonder, that AP omits them from their reports?

AP's quote of Hamas continues:

"We will continue to strike the Zionist military locations and settlement colonies around the Gaza Strip as a response to the nonstop aggression against our people."

This is where a reporter or editor with integrity will at least hint at the illegal Israeli military occupation of Palestine, and that "the international community" sees the illegal, 41-year, belligerent occupation as being the root of the Israel-Palestine tragedy. [5]

But not AP: their job is to frame the conflict as the occupying military-state defending itself against the army-less, navy-less, state-less population it is occupying, imprisoning, and starving.

As such, the Israeli-centric cause-effect time-line must appear in every report:

Israel frequently conducts airstrikes and ground incursions in the Gaza Strip in response to Palestinian rocket fire. But the area has been largely quiet in recent weeks as Egypt works to wrap up a truce agreement.

In other words, the only deaths lately have been Palestinians killed by Israelis, as in the aforementioned Israeli invasions of Gaza by the IDF (which, of course, AP didn't bother to report in their coverage of the events).

Israeli defense officials have warned that a large military operation in Gaza is increasingly likely, despite the Egyptian cease-fire efforts.

Translation: "We will not allow these people to humiliate us by resisting our cleansing of them."

The state of Israel was supposed to be out of Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem 41 years ago. It only occupies those Palestinian areas as a result of U.S.-supported preemptive aggression against Egypt, Jordan and Syria in Israel's '67 war of conquest against Arabs in pursuit of Jerusalem and "Eretz Israel" ("Greater Israel").

Any talk of the use of force in lands illegally-occupied by the aggressor-occupier should be spoken of critically by conscientious journalists.

But this is AP we're talking about: their job is to contrive controversy where none exists:

Egypt has been trying to arrange a truce for months. The talks have been complicated by demands made by both sides.

This is ridiculous. It's only complicated to corporate media outlets like AP, speaking from the neocon-Likudnik point of view. Hamas has offered truces and cease-fires and Israel has refused them all: simple as that. A months-old Egyptian-led truce effort is about effective, at this point, as U.S.-led Israeli-Palestinian "peace talks" have been over the decades.

But if AP were to mention the real Hamas-Israeli truce impasse, it would ruin what they feign next: the balancing of the scales of justice between the occupying state of Israel and the occupied people of Gaza.

Notice how AP closes out the report, selectively elaborating on Hamas' demands by apologizing for Israeli crimes. First, the Israeli demands:

Israel fears that Hamas will use the lull to rearm, and has demanded that any agreement include a pledge by Hamasto halt arms smuggling across its border with Egypt. Israel also wants Hamas to release an Israeli soldier who has been held captive in Gaza for nearly two years.

Hitler, too, attempted and succeeded at disarming Nazi-occupied peoples; we all know what that led to. Since then, international law says armed resistance is lawful and military occupations are not. When will Israel stop "smuggling" arms from the United States? Israel must feel lucky to have Egypt, the USA, and AP on its side and assisting in the disarmament and mass-starvation of Gaza's 1.5 million Palestinians. Hitler could only dream of such willing collaborators.

The soldier swap sounds fair though. Now, the Palestinian demands:

Hamas, meanwhile, wants a cease-fire to include a large-scale release of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. It also wants Israel to end its yearlong economic blockade of Gaza.

The blockade is actually more than a year old. It was merely intensified last June, after Hamas defeated the U.S./Israeli/Fatah coup—another huge story hideously absent from AP's coverage.

Gaza's power station alight during Israel's 2006 war of aggression against Gaza known as 'Operation Summer Rains'One year earlier, Israeli militants demolished Gaza's only power plant and other vital infrastructure during "Operation Summer Rains": an obscene campaign of innumerable war crimes (see footnote 4) against the people of Gaza, carried out in addition to the sanctions in place since shortly after Hamas was elected as the Parliamentary majority party in January of the same year.

Where else in history have a belligerently-occupied people been the target of economic sanctions and embargoes by the illegal occupier and its allies?

Israel and the United States have always kept Palestinians underfoot via one sanction or another. AP and its cronies in the Israeli and U.S. governments fraudulently claim that the collective punishment is aimed at pressuring Hamas to stop Palestinian rocket fire into Israel. But occupations, sanctions, embargoes, and aid freezes do the opposite: they oppress, starve, imprison, and kill civilians. They lead to more intense and desperate resistance. They turn "civilians" into "militants."

The colonial U.S. and Israeli war criminals are aware of this inversion of justice. They profit off the endless cycle because AP continues to sell it all as if these were diplomatic moves accepted as norms:

Israel sealed Gaza's borders and imposed other economic sanctions after the Hamas takeover of Gaza last year, and tightened the restrictions after a sharp increase in rocket fire several months ago.

And where are AP's editors when it's time to provide context to Hamas' demands? As usual, they are tripping over themselves on their way to the throne to kiss Israeli arse:

The sanctions have caused widespread shortages of fuel, electricity and many basic goods in Gaza.

That's true, but this is where an admirable journalist would cite independent sources, providing statistics therefrom, in support of that sentence. (Even Israel-worshiping AP readers should be upset here.) But this is AP, where "official" sources are taken as fact:

Israeli officials say the blockade will be eased only at a later stage if there is a halt to the rocket attacks.

Under international laws ratified by the state of Israel, the already-illegally occupying power becomes a belligerent one when it fails to perform certain duties, such as: protect the occupied population; secure the population's access to medical care and education; and end the occupation as soon as safely possible. Instead, Israel has pursued policies that collectively punish the occupied population and prolong and expand the occupation. These are supreme war crimes, but AP and the neocon-Likudniks will have us believe that they believe it's all diplomacy. 41 years of diplomacy. Illegal, belligerent, genocidal, gun-barrel diplomacy.

The final paragraph is so abysmally shameless, it even stands out from the rest of mainstream corporate media for its blatant Israel-worship:

Palestinian militants have fired thousands of rockets and mortar shells into Israel since Hamas violently took control of Gaza last year. The attacks have killed 16 people in Israel since late 2001.

That makes three mentions of Hamas' control of Gaza in the same report—each instance more colorful than the last. That is a subtle form of editorializing. It becomes blatant when no source is provided for the alleged facts and Israeli culpability is so obviously omitted. A third report from the Los Angeles Times—which is no overall improvement over AP—will show just how inhumanly myopic AP's Israel-Palestine coverage is in this regard:

The [rocket] attacks have killed 16 people in Israel since late 2001.

Israel's attacks . . . have killed 49 Palestinian civilians along with 57 militants in the past three months, according to the Israeli human rights group Betselem. [6]

The Times uses propagandistic filler similar to AP's; but at least the Times, unlike AP, provides stats for both sides, and even cites an authoritative third-party source.

And how about the elephant in the room—the "alleged" humanitarian crisis? What is the consensus on that vital issue from, for example, Israeli and Palestinian humanitarian groups?

On Thursday, Israel's Supreme Court rejected a petition by nine Israeli and Palestinian human-rights groups to ease fuel restrictions, which the petitioners denounced as collective punishment. [Ibid.]

But according to AP, these are trivial matters not worth mentioning in a news report. There is ample space for three mentions of a violent, bloody, hostile takeover of Gaza by the violent, extremist, Islamic militant group, Hamas, but nothing for what the U.N. Charter, Geneva Conventions, U.N. Security Council, or independent Israeli sources say about anything.

Even with something as basic as the names of the victims and the circumstances surrounding their deaths, the generally inadequate Times outshines AP. In AP's June 6 report—posted on The Independent UK and titled "Palestinian girl, 6, killed as Israel retaliates for fatal kibbutz attack"—we learn that shortly after the Hamas attack, the IDF launched an attack of their own:

An Israeli man was killed and four other people were wounded yesterday when Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip fired a mortar shell at a kibbutz in the western Negev desert.

Amnon Rosenberg, 51, who had three children, died when the shell landed outside a paint factory at the Kibbutz Nir Oz. The other casualties were hit by shrapnel. Not long after the attack, a six-year-old Palestinian girl was killed and her mother wounded as Israeli warplanes launched a strike on the militants suspected of firing the mortar. A missile missed its target and landed in the garden of the family's home in Gaza. [7]

Of course the missile was an accident. According to AP, they always are, when coming from the occupying military-state and landing in crowded civilian neighborhoods. This particular one was such an accidenty accident: AP felt compelled to speak for Israeli officials in declaring so. (What else is new?)

But, how do we know Hamas was aiming at a civilian object? Just because the editor gives a name and lamentation to the Israeli victim, and no such thing to the Palestinian victim, doesn't mean there's not more context. It doesn't mean that reality itself is not biased against the rogue occupying state; does it?

It sure seems that way when reading the following excerpt from AP's other June 6 report titled "Israel retaliates for Hamas shelling, kills 1":

Israel sent aircraft, tanks and ground troops to pummel the Gaza Strip on Friday, killing one Palestinian and injuring 17, a day after Palestinian militants killed an Israeli civilian in a mortar attack. [8]

You will never see AP calling a Palestinian male victim of Israeli violence a "civilian" in such a matter-of-fact way, without controversy. Ever. But when in need of damage-control, Israel can always count on AP to go that extra, shameful mile to modify the Israeli victims with dignity, and the Palestinians with disregard or disdain.

This Palestinian victim was a six-year-old girl. Would it torture AP to refer to her as a civilian as well?

The final proof (as if necessary) of AP's depiction of Palestinians as subhuman to their occupying Israeli overlords comes in a striking contrast made evident in the following excerpt from the LA Times report cited above:

A mortar fired at midday from near the Gaza Strip town of Khan Yunis struck a paint factory on the Nir Oz kibbutz about 21/2 miles away, killing 51-year-old Amnon Rosenberg.

About two hours later, an Israeli jet launched a missile at Hamas militants close to the source of the mortar fire, the army said. The missile missed the target and killed Ayah Najar as she played outside her home, according to Palestinian medical workers.

The Palestinian girl who died Thursday was described by her cousin, Ahmed Najar, as "a very sweet kid, very good in school." She had taken her last exam of the school year and started her summer break an hour and a half before the Israeli missile struck.

The Israeli killed Thursday was marginally involved in the conflict as a civilian volunteer in the border patrol. A father of three, Rosenberg spent his time working at the paint factory, teaching farmers at the kibbutz to drive tractors and giving instruction in yoga and karate.

So the Israeli man killed was "involved in the conflict" as a border patrol volunteer; that means he was armed and working alongside the IDF, which makes him not quite clearly a civilian.

Were the Hamas fighters firing at a military target?

Every "kibbutz" in the Negev or the West Bank is comprised of well-armed Israeli settlers, and every such colony has at least one IDF patrol, if not a separate IDF outpost, dedicated to its "defense." In Israel, if you are male and 18 years of age, you will either be drafted into the Israeli army or you will join a seminary, which can be quite militant themselves. Therefore, it can be argued that Palestinians who launch rockets into Israeli towns are aiming at legitimate militant targets as often as the IDF claims to.

But this is AP's world, where the Middle East's only nuke-wielding superpower faces an existential threat from the defenseless population it is crushing; every Israeli is a civilian or just "Israeli" (even the ones toting UZIs and U.S.-supplied M-16s on Palestinian land); and every Palestinian was either a militant or just accidentally killed by the occupying non-militant military-state.



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