cj#1138.1> Middle East present perspectives


Richard Moore

Dear cj,

[1] below is a ZNet analysis by Norman Solomon, author of
"The Habits of Highly Deceptive Media.".  Besides presenting
his own perspective on the Mideast, he analyzes the U.S. media
spin and suggests some of the mechanisms that keep the party
line on course.  Himself an American Jew, he has harsh words
for those who cry 'anti semitism' at every criticism of
Israeli state policy.

I try to limit the number of ZNet postings I share with the
list, as requested by ZNet.  If you find these useful, as I
do, you might consider becoming a sustainer.  If there are
other sustainers on the list, please let me know, as that
might help justify continuing to share ZNet material.


[2] below is an MER posting entitled "I am ashamed", allegedly
from a 'Yakov' - a Russian emigree Jew living in Tel Aviv,. 
cj subscribers sometimes complain that MER is one sided,
which it is, especially in contrast to the one-sided U.S.
coverage.  I think it makes sense at times like these to
hear to all sides, if only to understand how different
people feel about what's going on.


One of Norman Solomon's most important points is scattered
throughout the article.  Here it is gathered together:

    "In the world according to news media, the U.S. government is
    situated on high moral ground -- in contrast to some of the
    intractable adversaries. ...Rarely do American journalists
    explore the ample reasons to believe that the United States
    is part of the oft-decried cycle of violence. ... The
    silence is usually deafening, even among journalists who
    write opinion columns on a regular basis. The U.S.
    government's economic and military assistance to Israel adds
    up to a few billion dollars per year."

Israel receives a large chunk (20%+ I believe) of the total
US military and economic aid budget, an astonishining amount
for a nation of only a few million people.  In fact the U.S.
has made Israel into a major world power, with hundreds of
nuclear weapons,and a military entirely out of scale with
the rest of the region.  Israel is clearly a client state of
the U.S., and Israeli policy can only be undertood as an
extension of U.S. policy.  There is no way Washington can be
considered a 'fair broker' among the parties in the Mideast
(or East Timor, or India-Pakistan, or Yugoslavia, or
anywhere else for that matter).

But, some of you might be asking, isn't Washington forced by
public opinion to support Israel, and doesn't Israel thumb
its nose at U.S. pressure to moderate its policies?  Isn't
Israeli policy therefore beyond U.S. control?

Such a question does make some sense, despite the fact that
it reflects what the media tells us.  But nowhere else does
Washington allow public opinion to determine strategic
policy - everywhere else the policy comes first, and the
supporting propaganda is designed to support it.  I see no
reason to believe that Israel is an exception to this rule. 
Even with strong public pressure and effective pro-Israel
lobbying, Washington could easily have exercised a more
moderating influence over past years if such was its intent -
and public support for more fair-handed policies would not
have been difficult to muster.

In fact the creation and management of conflict is America's
favorite means of global control.  As long as conflict can
be maintained in a region, then the U.S. has a handy excuse
for intervening militarily whenever it wants - all that is
required is a bit of atrocity coverage justifying whatever
military action U.S. planners have have in mind, for or against
either side.

In the Mideast the tension between Israel and the Arab
states, and among the Arab states, has been very convenient
for U.S. policy in the area - which is centered around
controlling the quantity, price, and distribution of oil.  A
public bias against Muslims in general, aided by pro-Israel
sympathy, is especially desirable from a policy-options
perspective, to facilitate interventions at the source of
the oil whenever necessary, whether to safeguard supplies, 
or to take them off the market, as in Iraq.

Thus it has served "U.S.interests" (a euphamism in this case
for the interests of the seven-sister oil majors) to be
'forced' by pro-Israel public sentiment to bring things to
the state they are now in.  But there seems to be a shift
coming in U.S. Mideast policy.  We can see this from a
recent report of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR),
which I'm posting simulataneously as cj#1138.2.



Delivered-To: •••@••.•••
From: "Michael Albert" <•••@••.•••>
To: <•••@••.•••>
Subject: ZNet Commentary / Norman Solomon / Media Spin and Israel / Oct 14 
Date: Fri, 13 Oct 2000 21:43:40 +0100

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By Norman Solomon

The formula for American media coverage of the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict is simple: Report on the latest
developments in the fragile "peace process." Depict U.S.
officials as honest brokers in the negotiations. Emphasize
the need for restraint and compromise instead of instability
and bloodshed.

In the world according to news media, the U.S. government is
situated on high moral ground -- in contrast to some of the
intractable adversaries. "The conflict that had been so
elaborately dressed in the civilizing cloak of a peace
effort has been stripped to its barest essence: Jew against
Arab, Arab against Jew," a New York Times dispatch from
Jerusalem declared as fierce clashes in occupied territory
neared the end of their second week.

Soon afterwards, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
proclaimed: "The cycle of violence has to be stopped." Such
pronouncements from Washington get a lot of respectful media
play in our country.

Rarely do American journalists explore the ample reasons to
believe that the United States is part of the oft-decried
cycle of violence. Nor, in the past couple of weeks, has
there been much media analysis of the fact that the violence
was overwhelmingly inflicted on Palestinian people.

Within days, several dozen Palestinians were killed by
heavily armed men in uniform -- often described by CNN and
other news outlets as "Israeli security forces." Under the
circumstances, it's a notably benign-sounding term for an
army that shoots down protesters.

As for the rock-throwing Palestinians, I have never seen or
heard a single American news account describing them as
"pro-democracy demonstrators." Yet that would be an
appropriate way to refer to people who -- after more than
three decades of living under occupation -- are in the
streets to demand self-determination.

While Israeli soldiers and police, with their vastly
superior firepower, do most of the killing, Israel's
public-relations engines keep whirling like well-oiled tops.
Days ago, tilted by the usual spin, American news stories
highlighted the specious ultimatums issued by Prime Minister
Ehud Barak as he demanded that Palestinians end the
violence -- while uniformed Israelis under his authority
continued to kill them.

Beneath the Israeli "peace process" rhetoric echoed by
American media, an implicit message isn't hard to discern:
If only Palestinians would stop resisting the Israeli
occupation of the West Bank, it would no longer be necessary
for Israeli forces to shoot them.

"Israel Extends Time For Peace," said the lead headline on
the Oct. 10 front page of USA Today. "Israel early today
extended a deadline for Palestinians to end rioting," the
article began. At this rate, we may someday see a headline
that reads: "Israel Demands Palestinians Stop Attacking
Bullets With Their Bodies."

Of course, amid all the nifty Orwellian touches, the proper
behavior of people whose homeland remains under occupation
has never quite been spelled out. But U.S. media coverage
has reflexively mimicked the themes coming out of the White
House and State Department. It all makes sense -- as long as
we set aside basic concepts of human rights -- as long as we
refuse to acknowledge that without justice there can be no
real peace.

For American journalists on mainstream career ladders, it's
prudent to avoid making a big deal about Israel's human
rights violations, which persist without letup in tandem
with Israel's occupation of land it captured in the 1967
war. Many pundits are fond of cloaking the occupiers in
mantles of righteousness. And we hear few questions raised
about the fact that the occupiers enjoy the powerful backing
of the United States.

The silence is usually deafening, even among journalists who
write opinion columns on a regular basis. The U.S.
government's economic and military assistance to Israel adds
up to a few billion dollars per year. Among media
professionals, that aid is widely seen as an untouchable
"third rail." To challenge U.S. support for Israel is to
invite a torrent of denunciations -- first and foremost, the
accusation of "anti-Semitism."

Occasionally, I've written columns criticizing U.S. media
for strong pro-Israel bias in news reporting and spectrums
of commentary. Every time, I can count on a flurry of angry
letters that accuse me of being anti-Semitic. It's a
timeworn, knee-jerk tactic: Whenever someone makes a
coherent critique of Israel's policies, immediately go on
the attack with charges of anti-Jewish bigotry.

Numerous American supporters of Israel resort to this
tactic. Perhaps the difficulties of defending the Israeli
occupation on its merits have encouraged substitution of the
"anti-Semitic" epithet for reasoned debate.

Like quite a few other Jewish Americans, I'm appalled by
what Israel is doing with U.S. tax dollars. Meanwhile, as
journalists go along to get along, they diminish the
humanity of us all.

"Ask not for whom the bell tolls."

 Norman Solomon is a syndicated columnist. His latest book
is "The Habits of Highly Deceptive Media."

From: MER <•••@••.•••>
To: "MER" <•••@••.•••>
Date: Sun, 15 Oct 2000 09:33:51 +0000
Subject: "I AM ASHAMED..." - Yacov in Tel Aviv

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                       "I AM ASHAMED..."
                      Yacov in Tel Aviv

"My years in Tel Aviv as a Russian Jew have been for the
wrong reason. I came seeking a homeland, as the Russians
wouldn't let me feel welcome in theirs. I quickly realised
that the Palestinians are treated in the same way that we,
Jews, were and are treated throughout the rest of the world.

"I have heard the propaganda that my country pollutes the
masses with. I have seen the atrocities that go unmentioned.
I have known Palestinian prisoners and their families who
have been tortured into confessing crimes they did not
commit, all so that I can live "peacefully" with an Uzi
slung across my shoulder.

"I am ashamed to say that my people raped the Palestinians
in '47 and stole their land in '48, relentlessly, with the
support of the US and the UK.  The Palestinians, in fact,
are willing to tolerate our presence, despite all this, but
the more they allow, the further my greedy government
pushes. It is no wonder their frustration has turned to an
'at any cost' protest.

"To my country I say this: You have done so well to convince
me and the world that this is our land, a Jewish land.  You
failed to admit your violation of international law in doing
so. We have overlooked international law, but we must now
answer to moral law."

         Yacov - Tel Aviv, Israel 
         Quoted on BBC, 13 Oct

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Richard K Moore
Wexford, Ireland
Citizens for a Democratic Renaissance 
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