Wednesday 20 July 2011

Basic untruths and omissions in the mainstream media aid Palestinianism

A new video by Israel's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Danny Ayalon, called "Israel Palestinian Conflict: The Truth About the West Bank" makes a number of good points about the basic divergence between simple well established facts on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and how they are reported. This issue has a profound impact on the debate.

The clip alludes to the point that the mainstream media continually forwards certain basic fabrications of the historical record. It is clear these fabrications lend a great deal of legitimacy to Palestinianism.

Worth mentioning as well is the media’s twisted account of the history of the conflict found in virtually every news article on the subject of Jerusalem. Revealingly, the coverage by Associated Press, the BBC, and other mainstream news outlets, commonly include a paragraph on past conflict over Jerusalem. For some reason the failure to even briefly mention Jerusalem’s status before the 1967 Six Day War, when Israel took over the eastern side of the City from Jordan, is consistent. One example is

Israel seized east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War, annexed the ancient city, and established the nation's capital there. The international community, however, does not recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and embassies in the country have based themselves in Tel Aviv.
After the British Mandate had ended in 1948, Jordan occupied what is now commonly called "Arab East Jerusalem" in the 1948-49 War. This occurred at a time when Jerusalem had in fact been a Jewish majority city for a long time, due in part to its importance to the Jewish faith. The Jordanians expelled the Jewish populace and handed their land and much of their property over to the Palestinians. Furthermore Israel in actual fact "seized" the city in a defensive war that they fought on three fronts (Syria, Egypt and Jordan). It cannot be a coincidence that the mainstream media in its many reports on Jerusalem fail to mention any of these points in Israel’s favour.

Danny Ayalon adds that the so-called "occupied territory" or "OPT" of the West Bank is in fact a disputed territory similar to other territories like Western Sahara and Kashmir. The West Bank cannot truly be considered occupied, in part because the League of Nations ruling on the area allows Jewish habitation throughout Palestine, and partly because it was not previously under the domain of a legitimate sovereign. Jordan’s annexation of the territory in 1950 was only accepted by two other nations and the State renounced any claim over the area in 1987.

Another interesting point is the fact that the Arab parties in the conflict insisted that the 1949 Armistice line would have no political significance. In effect it does not have the status of being an international border. It is worthwhile to add that today many countries, for example numerous states in South America, affirm recognition of a Palestinian state on those very borders. However, UN Resolution 242 (1967) recognises the present Israeli borders until such time as a peace deal is achieved. It does not call for full withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders despite repeated claims to the contrary. As Eugene Rostow pointed out the wording refers to withdrawal not from "all territories" but unspecified territories whilst ensuring Israeli security.

It is odd that many are hopelessly uninformed about the conflict despite the fact that it features heavily (perhaps excessively) in the media today. Clearly a two-state solution is the desired outcome of a peace process where the Palestinians get the vast majority of the West Bank and all of Gaza, with some land swaps as were agreed by both parties during the previously attempted peace solutions. However, the impact of the all too common propagandistic distortions of the basic historic record by the mainstream media is damaging. It feeds world-wide pro-Palestinianism and Arab/Palestinian militancy. It makes the limited opportunities of securing a just and lasting peace considerably harder.

Wednesday 13 July 2011

Potentially Suspect Blast in Cyprus

On Monday the media reported a story about intense explosions at a naval base in Cyprus that killed 12, injured 62, and knocked out half the electricity supply. The incident has a connection with tensions in the Middle East because the blasts occurred at a cache of weapons seized from an Iranian vessel. The explosions were so intense they blew out almost all the windows of a local village called Zygi, a popular destination for tourists. Hours later fires were reportedly still raging and Greece agreed to send troops to assist the Cypriots. Journalists were not allowed to access Zygi or the naval base during this time.

The explosions occurred in the containers of Iranian munitions seized from a Cypriot flagged ship called the M/V Monchegorsk in January 2009. It was intercepted by the US navy in the eastern Mediterranean. A UN Security Council panel asserted that the shipment violated an arms embargo against Iran, adopted as part of a 2007 UN sanctions resolution. The resolution asserted that "Iran shall not supply, sell or transfer from its territory any arms and related materiel, and that all states shall prohibit the procurement of such items from Iran." These sanctions were imposed due to their refusal to halt their nuclear programme or to facilitate UN inspection. The cargo of weapons was put into storage but the UN failed to dispose of it since that time.

Some media outlets reported that the Monchegorsk was actually suspected of carrying arms destined for the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas. To quote the article by the Wall Street journal:

The discovery of arms is worrying to Washington because the U.S. and Israel have long maintained that Iran and Syria supply Hezbollah militants in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza with armaments.Iran has well known connections with Hamas and Hizbullah. Iran has strong links with both Hamas and Hizbullah. On numerous occasions in the past Iran has attempted to supply Hamas and it also funds the running of the organisation. However, Iran denied the weapons were intended for either group, and reacted furiously to the interception of the ship bound for Syria, which is its principle ally in the region and a supporter of the same terror groups. Apparently the Iranian ambassador visited the Cypriot presidential palace for a meeting shortly after the explosions.

The Agence France-Presse media outlet (AFP) reported that the weapons were stored in excessively hot conditions leading to concerns about their stability. Indeed this may of course be the cause of the blasts. However, it does seem rather coincidental that the explosions took place less than two weeks after Greece and the Republic of Cyprus took steps to prevent the flotilla sailing to Gaza, in part since it has been two and a half years since the cargo was seized. Hamas’ political elite in Syria strongly condemned Greece’s actions as "inhuman". Both Greece and Cyprus are of course very closely linked.

Time will tell the cause of the blasts but a possible link with the Middle-East may become one line of enquiry, especially since Hamas’ political elite in Syria strongly condemned Greece’s actions as "inhuman", even though such expressions are to be expected. It should be noted that the connection between Hamas and the Gaza flotilla has been established by numerous sources such as the Iranian channel Press TV which reported collusion between the flotilla organisers and a leading member of the terror group, and Dutch Newspaper De Telegraaf.

Note: A similar article to the above by the same author was originally published at The Propagandist

Friday 1 July 2011

With pro-Palestinianism you’re with us or against us

An unremarkable event in the Dail (Irish parliament) two days ago reminded me of a distinctive trait commonly found amongst advocates of Palestinianism. Socialist members Richard Boyd-Barrett and Joe Higgins both tried to suggest Irish PM Enda Kenny was trying to stop the so-called "activists" on the Irish Flotilla ship from going to Gaza when all Kenny had said was that the government was advising against Irish citizens undertaking the action because it was potentially dangerous.

This is clearly a reasonable point to make after the trouble on last year’s Mavi Mariner. So what was the problem? Did Boyd-Barrett and Higgins want Irish citizens to make an informed choice or not? Should the Foreign Office not advise that Irish citizens could face a potentially hazardous situation if they chose to break a military blockage? I imagine it would have been remiss not to issue such advice.

Therefore what prevented Boyd-Barrett and Higgins from understanding such a simple argument? Could the phenomenon witnessed in the Dail be indicative of a common feature found in pro-Palestinianism, a hysterical black and white "you’re either with us or against us" stance?

Nowhere more so than with this contentious issue does a stark belligerence manifest itself whenever there is a divergence of opinion from the predominantly pro-Palestinian narrative. Other than on a number of pro-Israel websites, it seems that whenever someone endorses an opinion that’s mildly critical of the Palestinians or mildly supportive of Israel, they are subjected to extreme criticism almost without exception. An example is the vitriolic scorn heaped upon authors of articles that don’t roundly condemn Israel, or posters that defend the State in the Comment is Free (CIF) section of the Guardian.

We see this in the melodramatic language of Joe Higgins, TD, who must have knowingly misrepresented the truth about Gaza when he that stated the supplies being brought in were "critical"

I ask the Taoiseach again to stand and call for the Israeli Government not to hinder in any way this flotilla, which is bringing critical supplies, as it travels to Gaza. I also ask him to demand of his EU counterparts to get some spine in their bodies, in contrast to the lily-livered statement they issued at the end of the summit in which the Taoiseach participated, merely calling for restraint. Why does the Taoiseach not say, in the interests of suffering human beings, that they have an absolute right to the supplies that every other country will get unhindered?
Of course it’s common knowledge that massive amounts of aid are being transported into Gaza by Israel on a daily basis. For example between the 19th and 25th of June 2011 Israel brought in almost 30,000 tons of aid which included construction materials. Mathilde Redmatn [or more correctly "de Riedmatten"], deputy director of the Red Cross in Gaza has acknowledged there is not a humanitarian crisis at all. Indeed supplying the populace is a legal requirement of the blockade. Furthermore the Israeli government has repeatedly appealed for the aid to be brought to designated docks and transferred to Gaza after inspection but the organisers of the flotilla have refused as they continually did in the past.

Enda Kenny gave an interesting response, the tone of which couldn't contrast more:

As Taoiseach, I call upon the Israeli Government not to take any action that would cause injury or harm to people who have particular motives. The boat involved last year contained no aid. The European Union, for its part, will continue to use its diplomatic and political connections and initiatives to see that the political discussions on the future of the Palestinian people recommence, together with the discussions that must take place about the Israeli-Palestinian problem, which has gone on for many years.
He spoke firstly about the safety of Irish citizens. He then referred to the fact that the Mavi Mariner carried no aid, just as the Irish ship, Challenger II, did not. It sounds as if Enda Kenny like many others is beginning to question the intent of these supposed activists. Interestingly he referred to the need to find peace. In light of his scepticism regarding the aid, it can perhaps be inferred from that point that he feels the present efforts to break the blockade are a provocative stunt rather than an effort to find peace.