Monday, March 21, 2011

Barry Rubin: Much Mass Media Coverage of Israel-Palestinian Issues Is Propaganda, Not Journalism

This post was written by Barry Rubin and is reposted here with his permission.


By Barry Rubin

So constant are the lies told in mass media coverage of Israel-Palestinian issues that it is hardly worthwhile to critique individual articles any more.


Following the horrendous murder of the Fogel family, a number of Internet—but not print—writers have pointed out that various mass media institutions have either not reported the killings at all, only minimally did so, didn't gives the ages of the children killed, or buried the story amidst a much longer explanation that the settlements are terrible and the settlers are bad people (who deserve it?).

Equally dismaying is the disinterest in getting right even the most basic facts. Consider this AP story, remembering that AP now provides most international coverage for almost all American newspapers today.

When you read something like this the conclusion is inescapable that the reporters involved are pushing a specific political agenda, deliberately twisting or leaving out material. Part of the evidence for this is that every distortion, mistake, and example of slanting is always entirely against Israel.

The article claims:

“Palestinian opposition to settlement construction on lands they want for a future state has brought negotiations to a virtual standstill over the past two years, with Palestinians refusing to negotiate directly with Israel as long as it persists.”

In fact, the Palestinian Authority walked out of talks in January 2009 over the Israel-Hamas war that began after Hamas abandoned the ceasefire and attacked Israel with a barrage of rockets and mortars. Construction was not an issue until President Barack Obama made it his central theme. Then, Israel froze construction on settlements for nine months yet during that period—until conveniently a few days before the end—the PA still refused to talk.

So it is Palestinian opposition to negotiations that has brought negotiations to a virtual standstill.

The phrase “settlement construction” is also misleading. Many (most?) readers probably believe that Israel is still building new settlements—I know this because people keep claiming this to me--something not true since 1993, before today's first-year college students were even born. The construction of apartments on existing settlements--which is the issue--is not the same thing as expanding the size of existing settlements or building completely new ones.

Finally, a minor point for some but one that made my blood boil, is this statement:

“The Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a mostly defunct Palestinian militant group, took responsibility for the killings. But it was not clear if the group really was responsible because it frequently takes credit for attacks it didn't commit in a bid to raise its profile.”

So, even if the Brigades did take responsibility, the AP goes out of its way to assure us that they are probably innocent. Moreover, by not mentioning that the Brigades are an integral part of Fatah, which runs the Palestinian Authority, is dishonest. Reading about some unknown or “independent” terrorist group is not the same for a reader as being informed that terrorists who proudly said they murdered three infants are members of the same party as Palestinian Authority “president” Mahmoud Abbas.

And, of course, the Brigades are in no way “mostly defunct.” That is something merely made up in this article.

One reason this makes me angry is that I was just involved in a court case as a consultant. The Palestinian Authority, which was the defendant, claimed that it had nothing to do with the Brigades and thus in no way responsible for its terrorism. I researched this and came up with much proof to the contrary.

But the item I thought most cogent is this: If you go to the Brigades’ official site it says in Arabic that the Brigades are part of Fatah.

Not too hard to find out the truth, is it?
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). His latest book is Israel: An Introduction, to be published by Yale University Press later this year. You can read more of Barry Rubin's posts at Rubin Reports.

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