FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Israeli Cease Fire Violations and Media Propaganda

The Israeli conquest of Palestine has always been a difficult issue for Western mainstream media to cover. The difficulty lies not in the task of reporting the facts on the ground and transmitting an accurate depiction of them to the public, but in refraining from doing so.

The journalistic mission, to provide citizens with factual information that enables them to be informed participants in democratic decision making, conflicts with the corporate mission, to maximize profits and influence.
The role of U.S. mass media – and Western media in general – as a tool for disseminating propaganda was first argued by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky in their landmark 1988 book Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. Their analysis reveals a media propaganda system based not on “formal censorship” but rather “by reliance on market forces, internalized assumptions, and self-censorship, and without significant overt coercion.”

Although it does not consciously and overtly do so, Western corporate media serve the critical function of protecting the financial and business interests of institutional power.

“A propaganda model suggests that the ‘societal purpose’ of the media is to inculcate and defend the economic, social and political agenda of privileged groups that dominate the domestic society and the state,” the authors write. “The media serve this purpose in many ways: through selection of topics, distribution of concerns, framing of issues, filtering of information, emphasis and tone, and by keeping debate within the bounds of acceptable premises.”

More than 25 years later, the New York TimesWashington Post, and the BBC keep churning out work that continues to validate Herman and Chomsky’s argument in Manufacturing Consent. In no foreign policy story is this more apparent than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel would not be able to exist in its current form – an ethnic exclusivist state with discrimination inside the internationally recognized borders and apartheid in the occupied territories – without the financial and diplomatic support of the United States.

The U.S. gives Israel more than $3 billion every year, the highest amount of aid to any foreign country. The U.S. government also provides a diplomatic shield for Israel, allowing Tel Aviv to carry out its decades of criminal atrocities with complete impunity. In the United Nations, the U.S. has exercised its veto in the Security Council 43 times since 1972 on resolutions concerning Israel.

Equally as critical, the United States government provides Israel with the ideological support necessary to effectively sanitize the colonization of Palestine. This would never be possible without the mainstream media replicating Israel’s distorted framing of the narrative, which is echoed by the U.S. government.

There are innumerable examples of corporate media propaganda on Palestine. For example, the portrayal of the brutal Israeli aggression of Lebanon in 1982 and the ensuing terrorism and slaughter by Israeli invaders that killed 20,000 people. The Western media docilely followed the ideological propaganda of the Israeli and U.S. governments to portray Israeli actions as a liberation, rather than the criminal aggression it clearly was.

“Lebanese Hail Israel’s Actions as Liberation,” proclaimed former Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg in the pages of the New York Times. This conflicts mildly with the view of the U.N. Secretary General, whose report to the Security Council several months earlier spurred Resolution 509, which affirmed “the strict respect for the territorial integrity, sovereignty, and political independence of Lebanon” and demanded Israel “withdraw all its military forces forthwith and unconditionally.”

The propaganda narrative requires Palestinians always to be portrayed as the aggressors, and Israel as responding in self-defense. In the last decade, four military confrontations have taken place in Gaza – in 2006, 2008, 2012 and 2014 – in which Israel has invaded and carried out wholesale slaughter. Israel in each case has been the party who routinely and flagrantly violates the cease fires.

Israeli cease fire violations are simply ignored or reported as inconclusive accusations. When they are mentioned at all, it is as something Palestinians say but that journalists dare not corroborate with verifiable facts.

It is instructive to study the period leading up to and after the ridiculously named “Operation Protective Edge” and its portrayal in corporate media as a test of the Herman-Chomsky propaganda model.

The previous war in Gaza occurred in November 2012. As a study in the Jerusalem Fund indicates, rocket fire from Gaza in the period afterwards was virtually non-existent.

“In the immediate aftermath of the cease-fire agreement no projectiles were launched from Gaza into Israel,” writes Yousef Munayyer. “Rather Israel continued to fire into Gaza, killing one Palestinian, injuring 42 others, committing four incursions and firing at or detaining 48 Palestinian fishermen off the coast. It was not until after most of these violations that the first projectile from Gaza post-ceasefire was launched on Dec. 24, 2012.”

Human rights groups like Visualizing Palestine analyze the data and reach the same conclusion as the Jerusalem Fund. Their data shows conclusively that Israel commits vastly more cease fire violations than Palestinians.

From November 2012 through July 7, 2014, Visualizing Palestine tallied 191 Israeli violations to 75 Palestinian violations. The Israeli violations were far more deadly. Israel was responsible for 18 fatalities and dozens of injuries, while Palestinians were responsible for 0 fatalities and 3 injuries.

After Israel assassinated 6 Hamas members in July, Hamas responded with rocket fire into Israel. U.S. officials unanimously proclaimed that Israel had a right to defend itself. The press uncritically repeated these assertions, despite no such self-defense justification existing in international law.

Israel went on to carry out the slaughter of 2,150 Palestinians, including 578 children. Civilians accounted for at least 70% of all Palestinian deaths. On August 26, 2014 after the conclusion of Protective Edge a new cease fire was reached that called for cessation of hostilities, opening all crossings to Gaza, and permitting fishing for a distance of six nautical miles, increasing up to 12 miles.

Since then, Israeli cease fire violations have been an almost daily occurrence. A few examples:
*On September 9, the Isareli navy detained four Palestinian fishermen after gunboats intercepted their fishing boat.
*On September 18, the Israeli navy opened fire and injured a 70-year-old Palestinian fishermen on a beach.
*On September 25, Israel closed the Kerem Shalom border crossing for Jewish holidays. The closure lasted for three days, as critical shipments sat waiting unable to enter Gaza.
*On October 7, the Israeli navy opened fire on fishermen inside the six-mile off the coast of Sudaniya.
*On October 16, the Israeli navy sunk a Palestinian fishing boat off the coast of Deir al-Balah. A boat belonging to Jamal Abu Watfa. Watfa belongs to the family of the four boys who were killed by Israeli naval shells while playing soccer on a beach in front of dozens of foreign journalists during Protective Edge.
*On October 22, the Israeli navy detained seven Gaza fishermen from a single family off the coast of Gaza city.
In all, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights counted 18 shooting incidents against Palestinian fishermen during the month of September alone. They reported 11 arrest incidents, four confiscation of fishing boats or equipment, and four injuries.
The PCHR also reported 13 attacks by Israeli occupation forces near the border fence, in the Israeli-imposed “buffer zone” adjoining the border with Israel.
“Enforcing the ‘buffer zone’ through the use of live fire often results in, inter alia, the direct targeting of civilians and/or discriminate attacks, both of which constitute war crimes,” writes PCHR.
The violations in the buffer zone and in Gazan territorial waters added up to more than one cease fire violation per day.
A search of the New York Times reveals only one story since Protective Edge on Israel’s actions against Gazan fishermen, a one paragraph brief from September 9 with the headline “Gaza: Arrests Suggest Disagreement on Truce Details.” The story concedes that Israeli military arrested four fishermen, but predictably focuses on the “disagreement.”

Ma’an article on the same incident provides important context absent from the Times story that helps readers evaluate the veracity of the competing claims: “Prior to the [Aug. 26] agreement, Israeli forces maintained a limit of three nautical miles on all Gaza fishermen, opening fire at fishermen who strayed further, despite earlier Israeli agreements which had settled on a 20-mile limit. The restrictions crippled Gaza’s fishing industry and impoverished local fishermen.”

The Ma’an article demonstrates that Israel has a history of provoking and harassing Gazan fishermen while failing to live up to their commitments to allow Palestinians to access their own territorial waters. This context is completely absent from the Times “he said, she said” piece.
In an article on November 2, Isabel Kershner writes in the New York Times that: “Israel said it had closed the crossing points into Gaza ‘until further notice’ after a rocket was fired into Israelon Friday.”
The Times relays Israel’s official position, without doing the same for Palestinians. But Kershner tries to make up for her selection bias by a disingenuous attempt at framing complaints of cease fire violations by colonizer and colonized as equally valid.
“Each side accused the other of having violated a cease-fire that ended in this summer’s 50-day battle between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza.”
The long list of attacks on Palestinians documented by PCHR are turned into a false equivalence. They carry no more weight in the Times‘ story than the accusations of Israel, which has been occupying Gaza and the West Bank while keeping its colonial subjects stateless for 47 years.
The Times‘ silence, false equivalence, and failure to provide any historical context on Israeli actions in Palestine would serve as a perfect exhibit in an updated version of Manufacturing Consent, whose thesis holds as true today as when it was published two and a half decades ago.
Matt Peppe writes about politics, U.S. foreign policy and Latin America on his blog. His writing has appeared in CounterPunch, Dissident Voice, Latino Rebels and other outlets. You can follow him on twitter.
More articles by:

Matt Peppe writes about politics, U.S. foreign policy and Latin America on his blog. You can follow him on twitter.

January 22, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
On the Brink of Brexit: the Only Thing Most People Outside Westminster Know About Brexit is That It’s a Mess
Raouf Halaby
The Little Brett Kavanaughs from Covington Catholic High
Dean Baker
The Trump Tax Cut is Even Worse Than They Say
Stanley L. Cohen
The Brazen Detention of Marzieh Hashemi, America’s Newest Political Prisoner
Karl Grossman
Darth Trump: From Space Force to Star Wars
Glenn Sacks
Teachers Strike Dispatch #8: New Independent Study Confirms LAUSD Has the Money to Meet UTLA’s Demands
Haydar Khan
The Double Bind of Human Senescence
Alvaro Huerta
Mr. President, We Don’t Need Your Stinking Wall
Howard Lisnoff
Another Slugger from Louisville: Muhammad Ali
Nicole Patrice Hill – Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
The Scarlet “I”: Climate Change, “Invasive” Plants and Our Culture of Domination
Jonah Raskin
Disposable Man Gets His Balls Back
Thomas Knapp
Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go
January 21, 2019
W. T. Whitney
New US Economic Attack Against Cuba, Long Threatened, May Hit Soon
Jérôme Duval
Macronist Repression Against the People in Yellow Vests
Dean Baker
The Next Recession: What It Could Look Like
Eric Mann
All Hail the Revolutionary King: Martin Luther King and the Black Revolutionary Tradition
Binoy Kampmark
Spy Theories and the White House: Donald Trump as Russian Agent
Edward Curtin
We Need a Martin Luther King Day of Truth
Bill Fried
Jeff Sessions and the Federalists
Ed Corcoran
Central America Needs a Marshall Plan
Colin Todhunter
Complaint Lodged with European Ombudsman: Regulatory Authorities Colluding with Agrochemicals Industry
Manuel E. Yepe
The US War Against the Weak
Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
Jake Johnston
Haiti by the Numbers
Binoy Kampmark
No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail