Rear Left

More Relative Calm, Part II

Posted in Media & Movements, War & Culture by rearleft on April 19, 2009


Basem Abu Rahmeh, pictured above, was buried in Bil’in yesterday.

WARNING: Graphic violence in link below

He is the 18th person (11 of them under 18 years old) to be killed since 2004 at demonstrations in Bil’in against the wall that cuts his village off from its farmland, effectively annexing land to the encroaching Israeli settlements.


ARIJ (the Applied Research Institute of Jerusalem) make very nice maps. Segregation Wall is a remarkably accurate name for that system of structures, matrix of control, fence, security barrier, what-have-you, that Abu Rahmeh was protesting when he was shot in the chest.  In Afrikaans, apartheid means segregation.

Tristan Anderson (see More Relative Calm I) is still in a coma in Tel Hashomer hospital in Tel Aviv as he recovers from extensive brain and facial reconstruction surgery. Both Tristan and Basem were shot at close range with the new high speed 40mm tear gas shell, unarmed, at a time when there was no stone throwing, under full view of local press and international observers.

Palestinian news agency, Ma’an, reported it this way.

The Jerusalem Post reports a riot.

The BBC seem willfully ignorant of the video evidence, because they take it at face value that the Israeli fire was putting down “rock throwers”, which it clearly was not.

This is getting virtually no play in the western mainstream media, at least not nearly enough to bring down any sort of real international attention that might send a ripple down the chain of command to tighten up that local commander’s direction on how the folks with the finger on the trigger are interpreting how loose they can be with the pot shots on demonstrators with their new toys, the 40mm tear gas bullet. This experimental weapon is being tested in the most public way for its effectiveness as a deterrent against resistance to the wall both in the olive fields and in the media-field, and is so far flying disturbingly fast and low in both.


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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