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Propaganda works its magic in the Middle East

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So here we are again. Four years ago, in between a US election and inauguration and before its own elections, the Israeli government decided to attack Gaza. Despite the fact there was a ceasefire in place (which Hamas had abided by) Israeli forces broke it and launched operation Cast Lead. It was a slaughter - 1400 hundred Palestinians were killed.

As Medialens wrote at the time, reading the mainstream media it was hard to distinguish who started the conflict (Israel) and why it was started (to terrify its own population into voting for Ehud Olmert, then prime minister).

Fast forward to this week. The media learnt no lessons. The New York Times blamed Hamas for the escalation; Jonathan Freidland was of the same mind, writing “[Israel] decides it can tolerate Hamas rocket fire no longer. It hits back hard.” This narrative, like four years ago, is false. Israel initiated the conflict for the simple reason; its population needed to be sufficiently scared to re-elect Netanyahu in January, so it had to prod Hamas in firing rockets into Israel. As the electronic intifada have shown, Israeli aircraft attacked on October 29th, hours later Hamas fired a barrage of 26 rockets into Israel. On November 4th the IDF shot a mentally unfit man who approached a border fence, one rocket was fired into Israel on the 5th November. Finally on November 8th, Israeli occupation forces shot a 13-year-old child, Ahmed Younis Khader Abu Daqqa, whilst he played football with his friends. The next day two more rockets hit southern Israel.

A ceasefire was then called on the 13th November, but Israel broke it the next day with the extra judicial assassination of Ahmed al-Jabari, who if you believe Gershon Baskin, was helping to draft ceasefire agreements with Israel. As such, 23 Palestinians and three Israelis are now dead as of writing.

Media coverage has improved today but yesterday it was appalling. The Guardian summary at the top of its page mentioned that three Israelis were dead but failed to mention the higher number of Palestinians that have been killed (Israeli lives are worth far more to the corporate media). They quoted with approval William Hague, Barack Obama and Leon Parnetta as though they were moral figures, who all put the blame on Hamas for the conflict. A group of intellectuals who visited Gaza recently rightly called “on citizens to inform themselves through independent media.”

No one of any moral standing supports Hamas and its use of terrorism and rockets to attack southern Israel. But anyone who supports Israel’s right to what is called ‘self defence’ (I never realised murdering civilians is self defence) has a weaker moral standing. Because they are supporting state terrorism, far more dangerous and murderous than any group like Hamas. Israel has Gaza in the grip of a brutal siege, which as the UN has stated, may not be ‘liveable’ by 2020. If Hamas are labelled terrorists, why isn’t Israel called a terrorist state? 

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