FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Lazy Journalism and Israel’s Punitive War

by

The Israeli army’s punitive expedition in Gaza has revived a major aspiration of modern journalism: the right to be lazy. In professional terms, this is known as “balance” (the far-right US television channel Fox News describes itself, not without irony, as “fair and balanced”).

In the Middle East conflict, where the wrongs are not equally divided, “balance” gives the occupying power an advantage. It also enables western journalists to escape the anger of those who dislike hearing inconvenient facts by “balancing” them against the words of other commentators explaining them away. The same concern for balance is not apparent, however, in other international crises such as Ukraine. In any case, true balance — between pictures of protracted carnage in Gaza and warnings of a rocket attack on a Tel Aviv beach — should tip the scales a little. If only because one side — the Israelis — use professional communicators, while the other has only the sufferings of their civilians to show to western media.

But inspiring pity is not an effective political weapon; it is better to control the account of what has happened. For decades, we have been told that Israel is “responding” or “retaliating”. The story is always that of a peaceful little state, poorly protected, without a single powerful ally, which manages to win through, sometimes without a scratch. And the confrontation always starts at the precise moment when Israel appears as the victim, shocked by misfortune — an abduction, an attack, an act of aggression, an assassination. A commentator will express indignation that rockets are being fired at civilians; then another will argue that the Israeli “response” was much more murderous. Score, one all, ball still in play.

And everything else, everything that matters, is forgotten: the military occupation of the West Bank, the economic blockade of Gaza, the colonisation of the land (1). News channels never take the time to go into details… How many people know, for instance, that between the Six Day war and the Iraq war, between 1967 and 2003, Israel failed to comply with more than a third of all UN Security Council resolutions issued, many of them concerning the colonisation of Palestinian land? A simple ceasefire in Gaza would therefore mean perpetuating a recognised breach of international law.

One can no longer rely on France to remind the world of this. François Hollande declared on 9 July that it was for the Israeli government to “take all necessary measures to protect its people in the face of the threats”, without a word about Palestinian civilian victims. Thus he abandoned any semblance of balance and became another messenger boy for the Israeli right wing.

Serge Halimi is president of Le Monde diplomatique.

This article appears in the excellent Le Monde Diplomatique, whose English language edition can be found at mondediplo.com. This full text appears by agreement with Le Monde Diplomatique. CounterPunch features two or three articles from LMD every month.

Serge Halimi is president of Le Monde diplomatique

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
August 26, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Paul Buhle
In the Shadow of the CIA: Liberalism’s Big Embarrassing Moment
Andrew Levine
How Donald Trump Can Still be a Hero: Force the Guardians of the Duopoly to Open Up the Debates
Rob Urie
Crisis and Opportunity
Louisa Willcox
The Unbearable Killing of Yellowstone’s Grizzlies: 2015 Shatters Records for Bear Deaths
Charles Pierson
Wedding Crashers Who Kill
Richard Moser
What is the Inside/Outside Strategy?
Dirk Bezemer – Michael Hudson
Finance is Not the Economy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Bernie’s Used Cars
Margaret Kimberley
Hillary and Colin: the War Criminal Charade
Patrick Cockburn
Turkey’s Foray into Syria: a Gamble in a Very Dangerous Game
Ishmael Reed
Birther Tries to Flim Flam Blacks  
Brian Terrell
What Makes a Hate Group?
Howard Lisnoff
Trouble in Political Paradise
Terry Tempest Williams
Will Our National Parks Survive the Next 100 Years?
Ben Debney
The Swimsuit that Overthrew the State
Ashley Smith
Anti-imperialism and the Syrian Revolution
Andrew Stewart
Did Gore Throw the 2000 Election?
Vincent Navarro
Is the Nation State and Its Welfare State Dead? a Critique of Varoufakis
John Wight
Syria’s Kurds and the Wages of Treachery
Lawrence Davidson
The New Anti-Semitism: the Case of Joy Karega
Mateo Pimentel
The Affordable Care Act: A Litmus Test for American Capitalism?
Roger Annis
In Northern Syria, Turkey Opens New Front in its War Against the Kurds
David Swanson
ABC Shifts Blame from US Wars to Doctors Without Borders
Norman Pollack
American Exceptionalism: A Pernicious Doctrine
Ralph Nader
Readers Think, Thinkers Read
Julia Morris
The Mythologies of the Nauruan Refugee Nation
George Wuerthner
Caving to Ranchers: the Misguided Decision to Kill the Profanity Wolf Pack
Ann Garrison
Unworthy Victims: Houthis and Hutus
Julian Vigo
Britain’s Slavery Legacy
John Stanton
Brzezinski Vision for a Power Sharing World Stymied by Ignorant Americans Leaders, Citizens
Philip Doe
Colorado: 300 Days of Sunshine Annually, Yet There’s No Sunny Side of the Street
Joseph White
Homage to EP Thompson
Dan Bacher
The Big Corporate Money Behind Jerry Brown
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
DNC Playing Dirty Tricks on WikiLeaks
Ron Jacobs
Education for Liberation
Jim Smith
Socialism Revived: In Spite of Bernie, Donald and Hillary
David Macaray
Organized Labor’s Inferiority Complex
David Cortright
Alternatives to Military Intervention in Syria
Binoy Kampmark
The Terrors of Free Speech: Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act
Cesar Chelala
Guantánamo’s Quagmire
Nyla Ali Khan
Hoping Against Hope in Kashmir
William Hughes
From Sam Spade to the Red Scare: Dashiell Hammett’s War Against Rightwing Creeps
Raouf Halaby
Dear Barack Obama, Please Keep it at 3 for 3
Charles R. Larson
Review: Paulina Chiziane’s “The First Wife: a Tale of Polygamy”
David Yearsley
The Widow Bach: Anna Magdalena Rediscovered
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail