Category Archives: 3. Media analysis

Discussion and information on media coverage of Israel-Palestine and related topics.

Video of lethal Israeli prison raid provokes little concern in Israel

Forward, Nathan Jeffay: “Scant Response to Video of a Violent Israeli Prison Night Search”

In Dead of Night: Israel Channel 2 aired footage in early April that the government had tried to keep secret of a post-midnight raid by Prison Service guards on sleeping Palestinian inmates at Ketziot Prison. The raid sparked a violent clash in which one prisoner died.

Israel Channel 2 aired footage in early April that the government had tried to keep secret of a post-midnight raid by Prison Service guards on sleeping Palestinian inmates at Ketziot Prison. The raid sparked a violent clash in which one prisoner died.

Tel Aviv — In the video, there was screaming, cursing and shooting that left one prisoner dead. But when, in early April, Israelis were given a fly-on-the-wall view of one of the most violent nights in the history of their prison service, other media outlets met it with a collective shrug. Continue reading


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Democracy Now gatekeepers bury dancing Israeli movers and bogus art students

The below article was published on February 9, 2007, but we have just now became aware of it and feel it deserves a larger audience.

We had been acutely aware of the Israeli spying aspects described below and that both the mainstream media and Democracy Now had failed to cover them. It’s interesting to see, as the analysis below reveals, that when Democracy Now finally mentioned these, it did so in a way to minimize the impact and the facts.

On the contrary, the excellent Washington Report on Middle East Affairs had an article about this early on by editor Richard Curtiss. The Washington Report has been published since 1982 and is one of the two best print publications for information on Israel-Palestine in the U.S.. The other is AMEU’s The Link. Yet, Amy Goodman has never had editors from either publication on her program. As a result, many activists around the country don’t even know they exist. She has similarly ignored If Americans Knew, whose founder Alison Weir has been writing and speaking about Israel-Palestine for 11 years. (See related article.)

And when activists, despite Democracy Now’s omission, do learn about the Washington Report, they are sometimes told by similar left gatekeepers that the magazine is “conservative.” In reality, it is non-doctrinaire, its editors and writers are committed humanitarians, and it consistently publishes extremely strong journalism both on Israel-Palestine and on the Israel Lobby. We suspect that is why it is being “disappeared” by the left gatekeepers who so long kept Palestine out of progressive activism that Jeffrey Blankfort exposes so well. For example, he describes: 

If there is one event that exposed their influence over of the movement, it is what occurred in the streets of New York on June 12, 1982, when 800,000 people gathered in front of the United Nations to call for a ban on nuclear weapons. Six days earlier, on June 6th, Israel had launched a devastating invasion of Lebanon. Its goal was to destroy the Palestine Liberation Organization, then based in that country. Eighty thousand soldiers, backed by massive bombing from the air and from the sea were creating a level of death and destruction that dwarfed what Iraq would later do in Kuwait. Within a year there would be 20,000 Palestinians and Lebanese dead and tens of thousands more wounded.

And what was the response that day in New York? In recognition of the suffering then taking place in his homeland, a Lebanese man was allowed to sit on the stage, but he would not be introduced; not allowed to say a word. Nor was the subject mentioned by any of the speakers. Israel and its lobby couldn’t have asked for anything more.

[The person largely responsible for this was Leslie Cagan, who similarly minimized discussion of Palestine in the post-9/11 antiwar movement. Cagan now, oddly, has a paid position with the US Boat to Gaza.]

Winter Patriot Continue reading

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Foreign correspondents’ pool shrinks, Youtube “reporting” by opposition in Iran easily manipulated

CounterPunch, May 9, 2011, “Patrick Cockburn: Does It Matter? Portrait of the US Press in the Hour of Its Fall”

……. US newspapers and television networks have famously been in a state of deepening crisis in the last few years. But the Arab Awakening has been a watershed in this decline. It was CNN’s reporting of the first Gulf War from Baghdad in 1991 that made it the channel that presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers and journalists around the world had to watch. Back in 2003, CNN and the US networks CNN and the US networks still had the most ample coverage of the start of the war in Iraq. But since the start of the Arab Awakening even the White House has reportedly been watching al-Jazeera English to find out what was happening (though the BBC has not been far behind).

It is depressing how swiftly the corps of American foreign correspondents has shrunk over the last five years. Papers like the Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer and Boston Globe, which once had a full roster of reporters, no longer do so. US television networks that used to rent whole floors of hotels, to the envy of non-American broadcasters, are now down to a single journalist to cover a story. At least one US network did not send a single correspondent to report the uprising in Tunisia in January that began the capsizing of the regional political status quo.

Does it matter? In one sense it obviously does, since there are fewer effective journalists in the business. The drop in their numbers would be more evident if so many Arab countries in turmoil like Syria and Yemen had not banned reporters from obtaining entry visas. The consequences of more limited journalistic resources being deployed is also masked by the use of YouTube, photographs taken on mobile phones, and conversations with eyewitnesses on satellite phones.

This sort of evidence is powerful but easier to manipulate than it looks. Governments that kick out foreign correspondents may breathe a sigh of relief without realizing that they have created a vacuum of information that can easily be filled by their enemies. Thus much of the reporting of demonstrations, arrests, shootings and killings in Syria now comes courtesy of opponents of the regime.

It is difficult to feel much sympathy for governments whose abortive attempts at censorship make them vulnerable to hostile propaganda, but it does make it very difficult to verify what is going on. For instance, at the end of February I was in Tehran where exile websites reported that there were continuing street demonstrations. I could see none of these though there were plenty of black-helmeted riot police. Local Iranian stringers for foreign publications had mostly had their press credentials suspended so they could not write.

“In any case,” one of the stringers complained to me, “the news agenda for Iran is now being set by exiles and, if we report that nothing much is happening, nobody will believe us.” On YouTube I noticed one video of a demonstration in Tehran that had supposedly taken place in February showing all the men in shirts and without jackets, though the temperature in the Iranian capital was only a couple of degrees above freezing. I suspected that the video had been taken at the height of the Iranian protests in the summer of 2009.

This is not to say that flickering films of atrocities by the Syrian security forces are not true, but collection and control of such information by the exiled opposition, makes it impossible to judge the extent of the violence.

It is naïve to be too nostalgic about the passing of the age when the US dominated the foreign news media. What made CNN’s coverage so distinctive in 1991 was that Peter Arnett, their correspondent in Baghdad, was prepared to take a sceptical approach to US government claims about the accuracy of its bombing and the identity of its victims. CNN lost its critical edge over the years, while network correspondents, often privately critical about US government policy, were prevented by their bosses in New York from straying too far from conventional political wisdom

The press has always been more dependent on the powers-that-be than it likes to admit. American journalists outside Washington often express revulsion and contempt at the slavish ways of the Washington press corps. But it is difficult to report any government on a day-to-day basis without its cooperation, cooperation that can be peremptorily withdrawn to bring critics into line. Also, contrary to every film about journalism, people tend not to admit voluntarily to anything that might do themselves damage. Woodward and Bernstein learned about Watergate almost entirely from secondary sources such as judges, prosecutors and government investigative agencies which could force witnesses to come clean by threatening to put them in jail.

The media is often credited or blamed for an independent sceptical spirit which it seldom shows in reality. In wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan effective media criticism has tended to follow rather than precede public opinion. Even then it usually needs important politicians to be standing on the same side of the fence. The Afghan war is unpopular in the US, but there is no effective anti-war movement because the Democrats, once so critical of the Iraq war, are now in the White House and, if Obama goes on being presented with targets as vulnerable as Trump, are likely to stay there. Read Full article

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Jerusalem Post: NY Hassidic paper ‘deletes’ Clinton from iconic photo

Situation Room watches update on bin Laden raid.
Photo by: REUTERS/Ho New

Jerusalem Post: “NY Hassidic paper ‘deletes’ Clinton from iconic photo”
Brooklyn newspaper altered photograph of Obama and staffers watching raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound* to remove all females.

NEW YORK – The photograph showing President Barack Obama and staffers in the White House Situation Room carefully watching the raid in progress by US forces in Pakistan on the bin Laden compound last Sunday [sic*] has been published far and wide.

One Hassidic paper in Brooklyn, however, has chosen to alter the photo – excising Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and another female staffer from the picture.

[It has since come out that they did not actually watch the raid “in progress'”]

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Media scrambles as Bin Laden story crumbles, When was Situation Room photo taken?

New American, Alex Newman, May 6, 2011 – While the establishment media was busy parroting President Obama’s announcement of Osama bin Laden’s supposed assassination, reporting the unsubstantiated claims as if they were unquestionable facts, much of the so-called “alternative” press was far more cautious — and accurate, it turns out. But more importantly, with the new official storyline indicating that bin Laden was in fact unarmed, bigger and much more important questions are beginning to emerge.

In terms of coverage, it turns out that the skeptical approach proved far superior in terms of getting it right. Countless mainstream sources were so confident in Obama’s word that they reported many of the claims as fact without even attributing them to the President.

But the official White House narrative has been changed so many times in recent days that now it’s almost unrecognizable. There wasn‘t even a fire fight; yet this was one of the crucial elements of the original story that justified the assassination of a person the government painted as the most valuable source of information on the planet — the leader of al-Qaeda. And in reporting the statements as fact, the establishment press has officially been left with egg all over its face again. Continue reading

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Analysis of New York Times spin on Fatah-Hamas agreement

By John Whitbeck – I am frequently frustrated by the Western mainstream media practice of almost never mentioning Hamas without immediately adding “sworn to Israel’s destruction” (or a variant) and usually “Iranian-backed” (or a variant) as well. Often, care is also taken to point out that the United States and the European Union consider Hamas “a terrorist organization”.

These helpful background identifiers are clearly intended by journalists (or their editors) to alert readers or viewers that these are “bad guys”, untouchables, people who must richly deserve extra-judicial assassinations past (Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, a wheelchair-bound quadriplegic, Abdulaziz Al-Rantisi and many other) or future (a resumption of assassinations of Hamas leaders having been publicly urged, post-Bin Laden, by MK Shaul Mofaz, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Knesset, who has simultaneously claimed Israeli credit for inspiring America’s own assassination strategy).

I cannot recall ever seeing Hamas helpfully identified in the Western mainstream media as “the party which, in 2006, decisively won the most democratic elections ever held in the Arab world”.

This propagandistic practice is on view again in today’s New York Times news story [by Ethan Bronner, whose son serves in the Israeli army] on the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation agreement (of which an English text is transmitted below) which was signed in Cairo on Tuesday and celebrated with speeches by Mahmoud Abbas and Khaled Meshal yesterday. The first mention of the word “Hamas” is immediately followed by “– the Islamist group that rules the Gaza Strip, rejects Israel’s existence and accepts arms and training from Iran –“.

Nevertheless, a few paragraphs later, the Times quotes Khaled Meshal as proclaiming in his speech: “We will have one authority and one decision. We need to achieve the common goal: a Palestinian state with full sovereignty on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital.” Obviously, this would leave ample room for Israel on the other side of the 1967 borders.

Does no one at the Times sense a “disconnect” here?

This is not a new position for Hamas. This has been the organization’s position for some years already. It is a position fully consistent with the position of Fatah, with UN Security Council 242 and with the proclaimed positions of virtually every member state of the United Nations except Israel and the United States.

Are Western mainstream media journalists and/or editors really so ignorant and uninformed as not to be aware of this? Or do they simply live and work in fear, believing that their personal and career interests require them, on this and other issues relating to Israel/Palestine, to feed disinformation to their readers and viewers so as to keep them ignorant and uninformed — indeed, brainwashed? [Or is Israel “family” for many of these journalists?] Continue reading

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The story behind the story: Leaked documents show media and government cover up on Bin Laden

CounterPunch, Israel Shamier: “Cross and Double Cross With Gitmo Files: US Knew Where Osama Was Since 2005” – The unredacted Guantanamo files show clearly that the trail to Abbottabad was known to the US intelligence services at least since 2005, when al-Libi, another Abbottabad dweller, was captured.

Timing is everything. The US President announced the killing of Osama bin Laden just as Wikileaks completed its publication of the Guantanamo files. Was it coincidence? If not, what was the connection?

An answer to this question is directly connected with the cross and double cross accusations exchanged in the murky world where the intelligence services meet mainstream media. Continue reading

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