For years, Palestinians have organized weekly nonviolent demonstrations against Israel’s wall in the West Bank. Each week protestors face the heavily-armed Israeli military and are beaten and shot at with rubber-coated steel bullets and tear-gas canisters, sometimes fatally. Yet, during his recent speech in Cairo to the Muslim world, Obama made no reference to these protests and instead called on Palestinians to “abandon violence” and adopt nonviolent means. Days after the speech a Palestinian was killed and a teenager wounded during the weekly protest, yet there has been no call by the US administration for Israel to “stop all violent and unjust actions” against the Palestinian people. And the media has followed and remained silent, even though covering the demonstrations would be as easy as a 30-minute drive from most Jerusalem-based news bureaus on any given Friday.
When images were shown by CNN or its competitors, it was generally not true to the real horror faced by Palestinians in Gaza. I can’t recall seeing one video of one of the hundreds of children killed in Gaza shown in the US media. In contrast, two days ago CNN broadcasted footage of a woman who was shot and bleeding to death on a Tehran street. Most of these viral videos are taken on citizens’ mobile phones, and they even have a special logo that CNN has created for the “unverified material.”
But there is plenty of “verified material” showing violent images from the Middle East and many other places around the world in recent days, weeks, years that has never been shown. Videos and testimonials are readily available on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, waiting, indeed begging, for the US media to take notice. But coverage of certain places might contradict US foreign policy there, something much of the media are proving unwilling to do.
This is pretty much a validation of one of the features of Chomsky and Herman’s propaganda model, in which the crimes of official enemies are cast into relentlessly sharp relief by media conglomerates, and the crimes of official allies are largely ignored.
Not explored in the article, but worth considering nonetheless, is Western attitudes towards Palestinians voting by comparison with attitudes to Iranians voting. When a Hamas government was elected in what were widely recognised as free, fair and transparent elections, Israel refused to recognise the government, and America and the EU witheld foreign aid. The Americans and Israelis then tried to instigate a Palestinian civil war. One may not approve of Hamas and its Islamism, but there does seem to be something of a beam in a Western eye that ignores outright the attempted destruction of Palestinian democracy when it does not actively rejoice in it, and then devotes lavish attention to the integrity of the electoral process in the Islamic Republic of Iran. There have never been any Palestinian ‘Angels of Freedom’ adopted by the west, but even so, plenty of those who now lament the deaths of people at the hands of the Iranian authorities would, at another moment, be only too happy to cheer on the bombs being dropped on their heads.