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Eyeless in Gaza

By Colin Andersen - posted Wednesday, 5 July 2006

An Israeli soldier has been captured by Palestinian fighters and the Gaza Strip is once again burning. Those who don't rely on the Internet for their news, might turn to the Australian press to guide them through these painful developments. But just how informative are the Voices of Murdoch (VOM) and Faifax (VOF) when it comes to events in Israel and Palestine? After perusing The Australian and the Sydney Morning Herald on Friday, June 30, the short answer would have to be: not very.

As far as The Australian's editorial, “Israel on target in Gaza response, Palestinian terrorists' tactics can no longer be tolerated,” is concerned, the Israel-Palestine conflict is as black and white as a chess board.

"Yet again it is ordinary Palestinians who will be the biggest losers in the latest outrage by terrorists in the Gaza Strip," intones the VOM. It's de rigueur, of course, to pay lip service to the welfare of the besieged and malnourished inhabitants of Gaza. But the very next sentence, "Israel's military strike at the heart of Gaza following the kidnapping of ... Corporal Gilad Shalit is exactly right," exposes the hypocrisy of the first.


As far as the VOM is concerned, despite the certain knowledge that yet more innocent Palestinian civilians will be killed and maimed by its "military strike", Israel's disproportionate response is just what's needed. The corporal’s "kidnapping" is all that matters.

"Kidnapping"? You don't kidnap soldiers in war, you capture them. But then, for the VOM, the Palestinians aren't soldiers, resistance fighters or even “militants”, only "terrorists".

The capture of Corporal Shalit is an "outrage", claims the VOM. Yet, if nabbing an enemy combatant is such a heinous act, why was the VOM silent in the face of an earlier Israeli raid into Rafah and the capture of Palestinian brothers, Mustafa and Osama Muamar? The VOM didn't bat an eyelid when they disappeared, like about 10,000 Palestinians before them, into some Israeli prison to be held indefinitely in administrative detention without charge or trial, or to be tried by military courts on secret evidence, before being forgotten by all except their own people. But then, they're Palestinians, aren't they? For the VOM, only Israelis matter.

"Sunday's assault on a military post inside Israeli territory ... was a bridge too far," lectures the VOM. The fact the Israelis have been murderously raining thousands of shells on a defenceless Gaza from a safe distance for months is, of course, overlooked. In the month of June alone, 55 Palestinians have been killed and 222 wounded, the bulk of these in the Gaza Strip.

We are told that Israeli Prime Minister Olmert "has shown considerable restraint in recent months in the face of a daily barrage of Palestinian rocket fire into Israel from Hamas's Qassam rocket sites".



Israeli scholar Tanya Reinhart has pointed out that, "in Israeli discourse, Israel is always presented as the side exercising restraint in its conflict with the Palestinians." It is curious how Israeli discourse is echoed so faithfully by the VOM.

Reinhart reminds us that until Israel's Gaza beach party massacre on June 9, Hamas had maintained a 17-month ceasefire and that "other organisations have generally succeeded in launching only a few isolated Qassams".

In explaining the recent resurgence of these (70 in three days), she discerns a familiar pattern: Israeli leader prepares to go or goes overseas to tell Americans or Europeans he has no “partner for peace” while the army sets the scene by killing Palestinians to provoke Qassam attacks on nearby Israeli town of Sderot.

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About the Author

Colin Andersen is a retired teacher with a long-term interest in the Middle East. He is the Sydney Director of Deir Yassin Remembered, an international non-sectarian network dedicated to keeping alive the memory of the Palestinian Nakba (Catastrophe) of 1948-49, and in particular its most infamous component, the wholesale massacre of the inhabitants of the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin by Zionist forces in April 1948.

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