�We are all
Hamas,� screamed a scrawny Mauritanian, repeatedly, as he determinedly drew his
face closer to a TV camera. Behind him, thousands more tunefully chanted
similar words, chants that were heard in different Arabic dialects, in fact in
many different languages all across the globe.
Yet, Israel, somehow
is claiming victory in the media war, which it calculatedly unleashed weeks
before its most violent attack on Gaza
yet. Thousands have been reportedly killed and wounded in the first two weeks,
starting Dec. 27, in the tiny stretch of land (roughly 140 square miles), yet
densely populated Gaza Strip of 1.5 million people.
�Whenever Israel is
bombing, it is hard to explain our position to the world,� said Avi Pazner,
former Israeli ambassador to Italy
and �one of the officials drafted in to present Israel�s case to the world
media,� according to the Jewish Chronicle. �But at least this time everything
was ready and in place.�
military officers; more women; tightly controlled messages; and ministers kept
on a short leash. This was Israel�s new media game plan in Operation Cast Lead,�
the newspaper reported.
difficult to fathom Israel�s giddiness and sense of triumph as defenseless
civilians are pulverized by mostly U.S.-supplied warplanes and bombs. Even if
one chooses to empathize with Israel�s dodgy claim, parroted endlessly by the
George W. Bush administration, that the Israeli army is in a state of
self-defense, one can never fully grasp the wisdom of its military tactics.
in Gaza are
already over 400 and injuries close to 2,000 so far as is known. Total
Palestinian civilian casualties are 400 times greater than the casualties
incurred by Israelis,� wrote three-time presidential candidate Ralph Nader in
an open letter to Bush, five days into the Israeli onslaught. Nearly one week
after the devastating air strikes, Israel unleashed a ground offensive which is
pushing the casuality figures to unprecedented heights, made mostly of civilian
victims, which by January 9, reached 795 dead and over 3,000 wounded.
Israel�s war machine is financed, manufactured and supplied by the United States. U.S. financial
and military generosity has served as the backbone of all of Israel�s wars
against its neighbors, including the Palestinians. In Israel�s war against
Lebanon in the summer of 2006, lest it runs out, the U.S. rushed �emergency�
military supplies, including cluster bombs to the Israeli army, allowing the
latter to ensure the demise of its arch enemy: thousands of dead and wounded
ongoing war against Gaza,
neither the U.S.� �dedication to the security of Israel,� nor Israel�s dedication to
inflicting maximum harm on civilians have been in any way altered. While Bush
brazenly chastised Hamas and the Palestinians for the death wrought on them by Israel, U.S.
President-elect Barack Obama had nothing to say.
of bloodshed in Gaza
over five days is the same as if almost 2,000 Israelis had been killed and
9,000 wounded in the same period. Imagine the consequences for Israel in such
an event,� wrote author and former BBC correspondent Deepak Tripathi. Would
Obama find the staggering number worthy of cutting short his Hawaii vacation, even for a brief comment,
if the tables were turned? Candidate of change, he said.
But Israel is
winning the media war, reports Israel;
a peculiar claim by any standards. If the reference is made to a �victory� that
helped win over mainstream U.S. media, one has to wonder if the corporate media
has ever expressed any sympathy for Hamas, or any resisting Palestinian
faction, be it secular, socialist or Islamist?
opposite has always been true. Any violent Palestinian response to the Israeli
occupation and its inherit violence has been dubbed �terrorist� for decades,
even if Palestinians were targeting Israeli soldiers or paramilitary settlers.
Aside from allowing a �moderate� Palestinian commentator an occasional limited
space to write a watered down op-ed, now and then -- which serves as a
feel-good moment that demonstrates the �objectivity� of U.S. media -- the
pro-Israel mantra has defined every major American newspaper in every city in
every state. That requires a separate discussion, but the persistent question
remains: what is Israel
Israeli women are stating Israel�s case to the media, according to reports. The
strategy is both sexist and underhanded. Following the Lebanon war, Israeli
bikini models flooded U.S. men�s magazines exhibiting their barely covered
bodies. Former Miss Israel, model Gal Gadot, defended her nude photos, promoted
partly by the Israeli consulate in New York as her attempt to help �improve
Israel�s war-torn image,� reported the New York Post in June 2007. Now as
Israeli bombs are lighting the sky of Gaza, similar tactics are underway, in
Maxim and other magazines.
leader and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni took its message to YouTube, conveying
the same redundant but �tightly controlled� misinformation, that attempts to
explain why imprisoning, starving, then senselessly bombing 1.5 million
Palestinian Muslims and Christians is good for world peace, for democracy, for
security, for the future of the region and the world.
fact is, Israel
never won the media war in the United
States for, frankly, there was never one to
begin with. Yet somehow, millions of people around the world managed to read
through the filters, the propaganda, the perplexing logic, the Maxim cover
pages, and took to the streets in a collective act of passion and dismay,
without billion-dollar media crafters �tightly controlling� their every move,
scripting their chants or directing their hoarse voices: We are all
Palestinians and �with our souls, with our blood, we will die for you, Gaza.�
What has Israel won
exactly, aside from the haunting images of Palestinian youngsters in UN
schools, homes and hospitals, mutilated, some silent and others screaming? This
is no victory, but a brief illusion of one. As for the long-term repercussions,
that is a whole new story. Israeli bombs over Lebanon in 1982 gave rise to
Hezbollah, and its war of 2006 turned a small, resisting militant movement into
a major powerbroker that will certainly help shape the future of Lebanon. Israel is now
doing the same in Gaza.
A victory, indeed.Ramzy Baroud is an author and
editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His work has been published in many
newspapers and journals worldwide. His latest book is The
Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People�s
Struggle (Pluto Press, London).