Selling a Genocide

MEDIA, 27 Nov 2023

Daniel Horgan – TRANSCEND Media Service

23 Nov 2023 – In the mainstream western media coverage of the latest round of conflict between the State of Israel and Hamas you will only see pictures and hear commentary that is approved by the State of Israel.  Additionally most reporters are reporting from Israel, not Gaza (or the West Bank).  The few that are, are required to be fully embedded with the Israeli Defense Forces, and as such can only take footage of what is approved by them.  This includes any interviews with Palestinians.  The few if any that are allowed have to be approved by the IDF.  This according to the chief of communications at Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor, who spoke on censorship of information on war coverage coming out of Israel.  With these rules in place, he called most of what we see “propaganda”.

Interviews with high level Israel officials air regularly on mainstream Western Media, while interviews with top level Hamas political representatives who are located through the Middle East, will be relegated to alternative news sources.  Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was given space on Good Morning America, while Biden writes an Op-ed in the Washington Post with the same intent: To sell a Palestinian Genocide to the world.

When it comes to the Hamas attacks on October 7th, there was immediate information disseminated that later was deemed untrue by the very sources that were responsible for such reports: The State of Israel.  Other information about the attacks was not fully explored in any depth by the mainstream media reporting the information.  This from an article on Transcend Media Service on 11 Nov that is proof of this disinformation and lies in regards to specifics of the Hamas attacks: “The Israeli government just downgraded the number of those killed in the October 7 attack to 1200 from 1400. Haaretz Newspaper was able to name less than 980 (some yet to be identified). George Galloway wrote: “The foul allegations of rape have been dropped by the Israeli government. The forty beheaded babies have been downscaled to one dead baby, not beheaded, and killed by persons unknown.” Does the truth of what happened on October 7 matter? Yes it does because it is used to justify an ongoing genocide (of course nothing justifies genocide even exaggerated and fabricated stories).”

Additionally many of the unfortunate dead that perished in the attacks came at the hands of IDF friendly fire whose response to the attack was to kill indiscriminately with Apache helicopter gunships that fired upon cars and homes in the area of the attack.  This is not to say that Hamas shouldn’t be held responsible for these killings as they perpetrated the attacks, but it lends to the untruth to some specific claims such as the claim that Hamas burned cars and left charred bodies.  Logic would say that they simply did not have the capability to do that, whereas Apache helicopter gunships and other Israeli weaponry more likely did.  Again: Somehow the truth does matter.

Finally, one of  the stated goals of the Hamas attacks was largely left unsaid in the media coverage, which was to take hostages to free some of the 5000 Palestinian detainees that Israel was holding before the war.  Many of these detainees are women and children, held on administrative detention without charge and/or due process.  When they are charged and tried they are done so under Israel military tribunals. This number has grown to over 7000 since the start of the recent war.  “And while Israel argues that this is a lawful preventative security measure — allowing it to target people for a range of political activity, including speech and nonviolent protest — human rights groups have deemed Israel’s use of administrative detention a blatant violation of international law.”  This is encapsulated in a Vox article:  Why Israel imprisons so many Palestinians.

When it comes to the media coverage on the history of the conflict and current situation of the Palestinians (since 1948 & 1967) there is a further lack of imperative information presented. Historically and currently, the word occupation is hardly ever read, heard, or seen in US and wider western media reports.  With this occupation comes the reality of apartheid. Another word omitted from mainstream media when it comes to Israel’s rule over Palestine.

The reality is clear: “There is today in the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 1967 a deeply discriminatory dual legal and political system that privileges the 700,000 Israeli Jewish settlers living in the 300 illegal Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank,” said Michael Lynk, the UN Special Rapporteur for the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967.

“Living in the same geographic space, but separated by walls, checkpoints, roads and an entrenched military presence, are more than three million Palestinians, who are without rights, living under an oppressive rule of institutional discrimination and without a path to a genuine Palestinian state that the world has long promised is their right.

The Special Rapporteur said that a political regime which so intentionally and clearly prioritizes fundamental political, legal and social rights to one group over another within the same geographic unit on the basis of one’s racial-national-ethnic identity satisfies the international legal definition of apartheid.

“Apartheid is not, sadly, a phenomenon confined to the history books on southern Africa,” he said in his report to the Human Rights Council. “The 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court came into law after the collapse of the old South Africa. It is a forward-looking legal instrument which prohibits apartheid as a crime against humanity today and into the future, wherever it may exist.”

Lynk said a number of recent reports and opinions issued by respected Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights organizations have come to the same conclusion on the practice of apartheid by Israel. He added that leading international personalities – including former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor and former Israeli Attorney General Michael Ben-Yair – have also all called this apartheid.  And while the word apartheid won’t appear in the US media in relation to Israel/Palestine, this should not be anything new to the US historical context as it is compared to the Jim Crow South: Ta-Nehisi Coates Speaks Out Against Israel’s “Segregationist Apartheid Regime” After West Bank Visit | Democracy Now!

And then there is Gaza:

Among other things, the “Goldstone report” concluded that the blockade of Gaza, imposed in its most extreme form since 2007, following the Hamas takeover, constituted collective punishment of the civilian population. UN bodies and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have expressed the same view.

“Another two million Palestinians live in Gaza, described regularly as an ‘open-air prison’, without adequate access to power, water or health, with a collapsing economy and with no ability to freely travel to the rest of Palestine or the outside world.” – UN Special Rapporteur for the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, describes Gaza, before the latest round of the conflict.

Not to justify any violence, including the Hamas attacks of October 7th, but is there really an expectation that living in such a situation would merit no armed resistance?  Clearly there is not. The colonies of the pre-United States took up arms against Britain for far less!  So while we must not justify violence on both sides and political platforms that don’t recognize each other’s right to exist, we also must realize that the Axis of resistance that Hamas is a part of is a logical expression of the historic and current situation in reference to the Palestinians. Never is this expressed in the Western Media, and more than never will you see this view in mainstream US media.

Let us not forget that one of the stated reasons for Al Qaeda’s attacks on 9.11 was the situation in Palestine.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and  Republican Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Mike Johnson both got airtime calling the fight against Hamas a fight against barbarism.  It is ironic that Israeli and American leaders on the far right have quoted the term barbarism to describe Hamas, and that this same term appears in the first paragraph of the Geneva Convention (rules on acceptable regulation of armed conflict).  This is not say the Hamas was not barbaric in the October 7th attacks, but since October 7th, it is infinitely clear that the State of Israel has been guilty of far more war crimes, which under the definition of the Geneva Conventions may be described in a general legal sense as ‘barbarity’:  The Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols are international treaties that contain the most important rules limiting the barbarity of war.  Hence a logical argument could easily be that the side who commits the more war crimes is the more barbaric.

While it is clear that Hamas committed war crimes of killing innocent civilians and taking hostages (Convention 4, Part 3, Section 1, Article 34), one might also say that these actions had genocidal intent due to statements made by higher level Hamas officials after the attacks.

On the Israeli side the sheer number of war crimes according to the Conventions (including the taking of hostages), is harder to calculate, but what is clear is that the number of war crimes is far higher than any number Hamas would have been able to commit.   UN estimates close to 40,000 dead or missing in less than six weeks of war waged by Israel.  50% of civilian residences have been destroyed or affected by bombing.  UN schools, shelters, mosques, refugee camps, hospitals and ambulances, have all come under attack. The UN said that Gaza was becoming a “Graveyard for Children.” It has been deemed unjust collective punishment, by standards of international law.   There are clear and multiple violations of 3 of the 4 Geneva Conventions amounting to violations of more than 20 Articles, and this is a conservative number.

At the time of this writing it would be almost redundant to commit more time to describe the destruction in Gaza.  The clearly indiscriminate intent of the IDF speaks for itself in the destruction it has caused. The killing of 50 journalists (most of them Palestinian and some targeted in their homes by airstrikes). Over 100 UN workers, dead.  Over 200 medical personnel, also dead, speak for themselves as well as constitute separate war crime violations.  The further cutting of power, communications, and halting of aid in the form of food and water, as well as the destruction of food and water producing facilities, has also amounted to experts citing the starvation of an entire population.  This also amounts to more war crimes, and to the certainty of Genocide due to the high level Israeli officials having proven their intent with quotations that express that very thing most difficult to prove when it comes to genocide: genocidal intent. Civil society and legal experts including Jewish experts as well as UN and INGO bodies have begun to fully agree on this point. Some call it a“Text-Book Case of Genocide”, such as the Director of the U.N. Office of Human Rights in New York, called it as he resigned, denouncing the Israeli Assault on Gaza.

Heads of governments who call for a ceasefire also use the term genocide without doubt and much conviction to describe Israel’s actions.  Just one example is Colombia’s president: ‘Genocide’, Colombia says as Latin American states condemn Israel over Gaza | Israel-Palestine conflict News | Al Jazeera

So while the US White House Spokesperson is allowed to display for the press the “genocidal intent of Hamas” it says nothing of Israel’s war crimes (or genocide), and the media don’t question that.  The White House spokesperson nor the media also do not mention anywhere the case brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights against Biden for failure to stop Genocide.  And this is what is present in US and global mainstream media despite the media themselves protesting this application of untruth, and unfair reporting on the conflict.

The latest hospital to come under attack at the time of this writing was the Indonesian Hospital in Gaza.  To be found nowhere in the mainstream media last week was the open letter to president Biden from Sarbini Abdul Murad, Chief Presidium of the Medical Emergency Rescue Committee in Indonesia.

“It is very unfortunate that your siding with Israel by facilitating weapons of mass destruction has actually made the conflict even wider. Your action clearly contradicts various international treaties and agreements that apply to the existence of Palestine. You have destroyed the international rules of the game, insulted the authority of the UN, torn apart the sense of justice, hurt human values, and tarnished the face of human civilization.”

In the final analysis we must understand that 80% of Gaza’s residents are registered by the UN as refugees of the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestinians when the state of  Israel was created.  This is a designation assigned to the people displaced in 1948 as well as their descendants.  This status granted by the UN is set to remain in place until there is a political solution to the conflict.

So that this article may more easily live up to the principles that Transcend Media Service stands for, it would be important to state what many believe:  That there is no military solution to this conflict.  At the time of this writing a 4-day ceasefire has been achieved and there is a glimmer of hope that the bombardment of Gaza may cease for longer.  A recent media report that did find its way to the NY Times points a way forward.  It would be as its title suggests:  A Road Back from Hell.

______________________________________________

Daniel Horgan is a graduate of the European Center for Peace Studies, Austria. He is a former student of Johan Galtung and Dietrich Fischer and an occasional contributor to Transcend Media Service. He is also a former intern at Cultural Survival, an indigenous rights organization based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

 

Join the BDS-BOYCOTT, DIVESTMENT, SANCTIONS campaign to protest the Israeli barbaric siege of Gaza, illegal occupation of the Palestine nation’s territory, the apartheid wall, its inhuman and degrading treatment of the Palestinian people, and the more than 7,000 Palestinian men, women, elderly and children arbitrarily locked up in Israeli prisons.

DON’T BUY PRODUCTS WHOSE BARCODE STARTS WITH 729, which indicates that it is produced in Israel. DO YOUR PART! MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 27 Nov 2023.

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