Jonathan Cook on the historical blindness and hypocrisy of the Western media.
All the current analysis focusing on Israel’s intelligence “blunders” distracts from the real lesson of these rapidly evolving events.
No one really cared while Gaza’s Palestinans were subjected to a blockade imposed by Israel that denied them the essentials of life. The few dozen Israelis being held hostage by Hamas fighters pale in comparison with the two million Palestinians held hostage by Israel in an open-air prison for nearly two decades.
No one really cared when it emerged that Gaza’s Palestinians had been put on a “starvation diet” by Israel – only limited food was allowed in, calculated to keep the population barely fed.
No one really cared when Israel bombed the coastal enclave every few years, killing many hundreds of Palestinian civilians each time. Israel simply called it “mowing the lawn”. The destruction of vast areas of Gaza, what Israeli generals boasted of as returning the enclave to the Stone Age, was formalised as a military strategy known as the “Dahiya doctrine“.
No one really cared when Israeli snipers targeted nurses, youngsters and people in wheelchairs who came out to protest against their imprisonment by Israel. Many thousands were left as amputees after those snipers received orders to shoot the protesters indiscriminately in the legs or ankles.
Western concern at the deaths of Israeli civilians at the hands of Palestinian fighters is hard to stomach. Have not many hundreds of Palestinian children died over the past 15 years in Israel’s repeated bombing campaigns on Gaza? Did their lives not count as much as Israeli lives – and if not, why not?
After so much indifference for so long, it is difficult to hear the sudden horror from Western governments and media because Palestinians have finally found a way – mirroring Israel’s inhumane, decades-long policy – to fight back effectively. …
No hiding place
By indulging Israel in its deceptions, Israel’s allies have allowed it to perpetrate ever more outrageous lies. At the weekend, Netanyahu warned Palestinians in Gaza to “leave now” because Israeli forces were preparing to “act with all force”.
But Netanyahu knows, as do his Western enablers, that Gaza’s population has nowhere to flee. There is no hiding place. Palestinians have been sealed into Gaza since Israel besieged it by land, sea and air. …
There are two immediate, and contrasting, lessons to be learnt from what has happened this weekend.
The first is that the human spirit cannot be caged indefinitely. Palestinians in Gaza have been constantly devising new ways to break free from their chains.
They have built a network of tunnels, most of which Israel has located and destroyed. They have fired rockets that are invariably shot down by ever more sophisticated interception systems. They have protested en masse at the heavily fortified fences, topped by guntowers, Israel surrounded them with – only to be shot by snipers.
Now they have staged a daring escape. Israel will batter the enclave back into submission with massive bombardments, but only “in retaliation”, of course. The Palestinians’ craving for freedom and dignity will not be diminished. Another form of resistance, doubtless more brutal still, will emerge.
And the parties most responsible for that brutality will be Israel and the West that supports it so lavishly, because Israel refuses to stop brutalising the Palestinians it forces to live under its rule.
The second lesson is that Israel, endlessly indulged by its Western patrons, still has no incentive to internalise the fundamental truth above. The rhetoric of its current government of fascists and Jewish supremacists may be particularly ugly, but there is a broad consensus among Israelis of all political stripes that the Palestinians must continue to be oppressed.
Which is why the so-called opposition will not hesitate to support the military pounding of the long besieged enclave of Gaza, killing yet more Palestinian civilians to “teach them a lesson”, a lesson no one in Israel can articulate beyond asserting that Palestinians must accept their permanent inferiority and imprisonment.
Already, the “good Israelis” – opposition leaders Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz – are in discussions with Netanyahu to join him in an “emergency unity government”.
What “emergency”? The emergency of Palestinians demanding the right not to live as prisoners in their own homeland.
Israelis and Westerners can continue their mental gymnastics to justify the Palestinians’ oppression and refuse them any right to resist. But their hypocrisy and self-deceptions stand exposed for the rest of the world to see.
James North in Mondoweiss:
The mainstream U.S. media is using the word “hostages” to describe the Israelis who Hamas militants have captured and taken into Gaza. Analyzing this usage is a good way to introduce how the mainstream is distorting this latest crisis. First, some of the captured Israelis are soldiers, who should properly be called “prisoners of war,” especially as Benjamin Netanyahu has actually declared war on Gaza. But, in fact, other captured Israelis are in fact civilians, and “hostages” is arguably the appropriate description.
But wait. This conflict didn’t start at 6:30 a.m. on October 7. Israel has occupied both West Bank Palestine and Gaza for nearly 60 years, and over that time has arrested and imprisoned hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, often without even show trials. Nathan Thrall, in his impressive, just published book, explains that during the First Intifada (1967-1993) the Israeli occupiers jailed some 700,000 Palestinian men and boys on the West Bank, roughly 40 percent of the entire male population there.
Today, the Israeli occupiers continue to arrest Palestinians, holding them for long stretches without anything resembling a fair trial. But the U.S. mainstream never seems to describe these Palestinian people as “hostages.” …
The double standard perfectly illustrates the U.S. media’s playbook on how to distort the crisis. First, twist your actual reports, with one-sided language and biased framing. But second, and arguably even more important; ignore any of the history in Israel/Palestine, so that the attack from Gaza looks like an inexplicable, unprovoked spasm of violence and Jew-hatred. …
CNN’s color-coded map of Israel/Palestine, which it displayed on screen regularly all week-end, was another instance of slanting. The map showed the entire occupied West Bank as “Palestinian-controlled,” which will be a surprise to Palestinians who every single day have to pass through Israeli military checkpoints.