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Undiluted Lies Called Journalism

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By Farooq Sulehria

‘The attendant propaganda-the abuse of language and eternal hypocricy-has reached its nadir in recent weeks,’ says John Pilger regarding undiluted lies daily discharged by the western media since the beginning of Lebanon crisis. If one happens to enlighten oneself as to the Mideast situation through mainstream western media, one would find out that it’s a ‘proxy war’ provoked by ‘kidnaping’ of two Israeli soldiers and casualities are mounting owing to Israeli ‘raids’ on Beirut and Hezbollah ‘attacks’ on civilian targets.

True, this is a proxy war. But it is not Hezbollah fighting Iran’s/Syria’s proxy war. It is, in fact, Israel fighting US’ proxy war. And the war was not provoked by Hezbollah but had been a well thought out and worked out Israeli plan. ‘ Of all of Israel’s wars since 1948, this was the one for which Israel was most prepared’, Gerald Steinberg , a political science professor at Israel’s Bar-Ilan university, told the San Francisco Chronicle almost a year in advance. To be exact, the story appeared in Chronicle on 7.21.05. ‘By 2004, the military campaign scheduled to last about three weeks that we’re seeing now had been blocked out and, in the last year or two, it’s been simulated and rehearsed across the board’. According to Chronicle, a senior Israeli army officer has been giving presentations for more than a year to ‘US and other diplomats, journalists and think tanks’ outlining the coming war with Lebanon, explaining that a combination of air and ground forces wold target Hezbollah and ‘transportation and communication arteries’.

Despite briefings a year in advance, the US corporate media have been laying blame on Hezbollah for recent ‘escalations’. The New York Times, for instance, in its editorial comment ( 6.29.06), headlined ‘Hamas provokes a fight’, comments: ‘ The responsibility for this latest escalation rests squarely with Hamas’ and that ‘ an Israeli military response was inevitable’.

The Washington Post (7.14.06) was even poisonous and unobjective: ‘ Hezbollah and its backers have instigated the current fighting and should be held responsible for the consequence’. It was perhaps an advance attempt to lay Qana’s blame on Hezbollahs door.

Even if New York Times or Washington Post were not briefed by ‘the Israeli army officer’ mentioned by San Francisco Chronicle , they should have been at least aware of car bombing in Sidon, Lebanon, that claimed Mahmoud Rafah’s life, a leader of Islamic Jihad. His assassin was arrested and confessed to have carried out Mossad’s orders. On 29 May, the New York Times was told by Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, a professor at Beirut’s Lebanese American University, that ‘ the Israelis in hitting Islamic Jihad , knew they would get Hezbollah involved too’ and ‘the Israelis had to be aware that if they assassinated this guy they would get a response’.

The British media are no exception either. On June 29, Stephen Farrell reported in The Times ‘a dramatic escalation of the conflict sparked by the abduction’. BBC described the Palestinian attack as ‘a major escalation in cross-border tensions’.

Traditionally, British media reporting of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been heavily biased in favour of Israel as was revealed by a 2002 Glasgow University Media Group report. The report says that television broadcasters were six times as likely to present Israeli attacks as ‘retaliating’ or in some way hitting back as Palestinian attacks. And Robert Fisk explains why: ‘I’ve yet to find a newspaper which shrinks from reporting the “murder” or at least the “assassination” of IRA or UDA gangsters in Belfast. But not when the Israelis do the murdersing. For when Israelis kill, they do not murder or assassinate, according to Reuters or CNN or the most recent convert to flabby journalism , the BBC. Israelis perpetrate something which is only “called” an “assassination” by Palestinians. Wen Israelis are involved, our moral compass our ability to report he truth dries up’.

In fact, Israel and the Empire. All the 267 newspaper editors working for Rupert Murdoch press globally supported Iraq war. In Britain, in the run up to Iraq war, there was a public clash between the government and the BBC. The BBC lost in the clash. The BBC Director General, Greg Dyke, was sacked. Now he has written memoir. He tells how in the run up to Iraq war he was harassed everyday by Prime Minister Tony Bliar.

Now look at what happens in the Empire itself. Walter Isaacson, CNN chairman, told his staff on the eve of US invasion of Afghantan: ‘Showing the misery of Afghanistan ran the risk of promoting enemy propaganda’, therefore he advised: ‘ It seems perverse to focus too much on the causalities o hardships in Afghanistan--- we must talk about how the Taliban are using civilian shields and how the Taliban have harboured the terrorists responsible for killing close to 5,000 innocent people’. The Fox channel is nothing but a propaganda channel for Bush administration. It’s like former Soviet Union during its worse days when there was no discussion and same news bulletin was shown for twenty four hours. The USA is a pretty divided country but no dissenting voice is allowed on mainstream. In the words of Gore Vidal, ‘The New York Times gave up being anything except a kind of shadow of The Wall Street Journal . The Washington Post is the cour circular. What has the emperor done today? And who will be the under-assistant of the secretary f agriculture? As though these things mattered’.

While the advent of internet has helped alternative media grow but alternative media need to become ‘mainstream’ like Al Jazeera and Telesour. There is a dire need to create alternatives like Al Jazeera and Telesour. Al Jazeera has challenged the Western monopoly. The images one sees on the Western chanells are also available on Al Jazeera. When it was Afghan war, US forces bombed Al Jazeera. During Iraq war yet again they deliberately bombed Al Jazeera's office to kill Al Jazeera correspondent Tariq Ayub. We have now coem to know that Bush and Blair wanted to bomb Al Jazeera headquarters in Qatar. They dropped the plan owing to the opposition by British government. They wanted to bomb Al Jazeera headquarters because they want to maintain the monopoly of the image. The people who wield power don’t like critical media. Similarly, Telesour launched by Venzuellan government is doing exactly what power group does not like. But before getting Telesur, perhaps a Hugo Chavez is needed.(ends)

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