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Media Rules on the Middle East


“I will not compare slaughter to slaughter. I will not compare death to death. I will not compare, I will not compare…”

Welcome to my morning mantra.

It’s been a long hot news summer and it’s important to remember the rules. Under prevailing US media law, you may not compare a killing to a killing. You may not say the word “Palestinian” for example and then in the same sentence, say “Yazidi.”

You may not compare. You may not compare… The rules are very clear, especially when it comes to the Middle East.

I, for example, may not compare destruction to destruction. It is best, in fact, if I do not even contemplate or wonder about men and women and children trapped without food and medicine and drinking water under siege on a mountain top, and at the same time, contemplate or wonder about men and women and children trapped without food and medicine and drinking water under siege in a place near a beach.

A mountain under siege is not to be compared to a beach besieged. That’s simple enough. After all, a mountain is very different from a beach.

I will not compare. I will not compare… In particular I will not compare a destroyed mosque in Mosul with a destroyed mosque in Khuzaa. And I absolutely will not compare the motivations of the uniformed soldiers whom I hear laugh and cheer on a videotape out of Gaza as they explode that mosque in Khuzaa, with the motivations of any men anywhere committing war crimes – even if I can’t get that laughter and cheering out of my head.

I may not compare, I may not compare. Why? Because comparisons are odious, of course, and politics is complicated.

You heard the president, the U.S. “cannot and should not intervene every time there’s a crisis in the world.”

Some require the U.S. to act to help the people besieged. Some require the US to act to help the people doing the besieging.

To compare is to risk blurring the differences and the differences are all important.

To recap the rules: it is wrong to compare.

You can not say: a life is a life.

You can not say words like oil and money and markets.

You can not ask what’s the difference between a mountain and a beach.

This commentary is dedicated to the late great poet June Jordan. Find out more about her at June and see more from me at, including an interview with long time Civil Rights Activist Dorothy Zellner about her work now for peace and justice in the Middle East.

Laura Flanders is the host of GRITtv now seen on the new, news channel TeleSUR English – for a new perspective. 

Laura Flanders is the host of GRITtv now seen on the new, news channel TeleSUR English – for a new perspective. 

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