Rear Left

Relative Calm

Posted in War & Culture by rearleft on January 28, 2009

The not-so-sophisticated logic of an Israeli soldier

The logic of young men with tanks

As the atrocities of Israel’s latest assault on Gaza fade from the headlines, we once again enter the mode of what the mainstream media often refers to as “relative calm” (see also here). This euphemistic phrase is often used to denote a period in which Israel suffers few or no deaths from Palestinian attacks. Palestinian deaths and suffering caused by siege, restriction of movement, and continued military actions continue during such periods , but do not warrant the attention of the Western press.

I’ve added a link in the Politricks category of my blog roll (see right) called In Gaza, which carries the eye-witness reports of Ewa Jasiewicz, a volunteer with the Free Gaza Movement. As her reports show, Israeli gunships sitting just offshore continue to shell Gaza, in spite of what you may have heard about the ceasefire. Some trucks full of food aid have been allowed in, but the siege on imports and exports continues. An IDF soldier was killed today in what Israeli press described as a remote-controlled bomb attack. Interestingly, the soldier was a Bedouin, not a Jew. In response, the Israelis killed a nearby farmer and launched airstrikes on Rafah.

Meanwhile, Britain’s main broadcasters refuse to broadcast the Disaster Emergency Committee’s appeal for Gaza:

I’ll admit, it’s quite odd and off-putting to see Palestinian children weeping in the “save the children” genre ad. Nonetheless, an evenhanded presentation from the organizations who had no problem airing similar appeals on Burma and Darfur:

The BBC and Sky’s refusal to play the clip displays the lesser weight afforded to Palestinian lives by the Western media. In the perverse logic of our press, portrayal of Palestinian suffering is political bias. Its absence is relative calm.

Conversely, I was pleasantly astounded to happen upon Bob Simon’s remarkably well reported 60 minutes piece on the increasingly non-viable two state solution. Never before have I seen an assessment of the options that Israel faces presented so starkly and correctly in the US media:

Demographers predict that within ten years Arabs will outnumber Jews in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. Without a separate Palestinian state the Israelis would have three options, none of them good. They could try ethnic cleansing, drive the Palestinians out of the West Bank, or they could give the Palestinians the vote. That would be the democratic option but it would mean the end of the Jewish state. Or they could try apartheid – have the minority Israelis rule the majority Palestinians, but apartheid regimes don’t have a very long life.

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