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Protest outside AIPAC Convention, Washington 2015

In this essay, the arguments of Mearsheimer and Walt in their pioneering study would be supplemented with an inquiry into the dynamics of the Israel Lobby’s influence on US domestic politics and its predetermination of its outcome. This is supplemented or, otherwise reinforced by,the mainstream media’s manifest bias when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Examples will be cited, and implications for US foreign policy and the long-terms prospects for peace in the Middle East would be assessed.

  1. Introduction

It is extremely rare in the history of modern and contemporary international relations that a smaller state would essentially control and predetermine the foreign policy of a much stronger, larger state at least insofar as the perceived interest of the state is concerned. It would seem that the larger state, the United States (US) in this case, would be able to consider more objectively if a foreign policy direction it is being led to by the junior partner, the Zionist State of Israel in this case, may not always be to its best interests or may even be contrary to its own as when one of the core principles of its constitution, freedom of speech, is at stake. To be sure, this observation is not novel. It has been the subject of a much needed or, as some would have it, much maligned but courageous, scholarly treatment of the subject such as that conducted by a pair of academics over a decade ago, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, whose views they have summarised in this brief article, “The Israel Lobby”, published in the London Review of Books in March 2006. In this piece, Mearsheimer and Walt write: “[T]he thrust of US policy in the region derives almost entirely from domestic politics, and especially the activities of the ‘Israel Lobby’. Other special-interest groups have managed to skew foreign policy, but no lobby has managed to divert it as far from what the national interest would suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that US interests and those of the other country – in this case, Israel – are essentially identical.” (Mearsheimer and Walt)

In this essay, much of the arguments of Mearsheimer and Walt would be affirmed and supplemented with an inquiry into the dynamics of the Israel Lobby’s more recent influence on US domestic politics and its predetermination of its outcome. The sub-set of influence manifest through the mainstream media would be critically given light to. An assessment of the implications of the complex of Israel Lobby activites on US politics as well as a prognosis on the prospects for the peace process between the Israelis and the Palestinians would be offered.

  1. The American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the Israel Lobby

In March, 2017, during the 115th Congress, a bill entitled Israel Anti-Boycott Act was introduced into the Senate via the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee. The principal sponsor of the bill was Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.). To date, the bill has garnered the support of 237 members of the House (both as sponsors and co-sponsors), and 43 members of the Senate (both as sponsors and co-sponsors). Even though this bill was first exposed to the public by an article in The Electronic Intifada on April 18, 2017, it is just now getting more critical public scrutiny and generating outcry especially following two important events within days of each other: first, the dispatch of a letter, dated July 17, 2017, from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to the US Senate warning of the dire implications of the bill on civil liberties and urging the legislators to oppose and refrain from sponsoring or co-sponsoring the bill; and, second, an article co-authored by Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Grim, appearing in The Intercept on July 19, 2017, entitled “U.S. Lawmakers Seek to Criminally Outlaw Support for Boycott Campaign Against Israel”. The event was also picked up by a small New York City-oriented online publication named Gothamist, presumably because New York State Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand had been publicly revealed in The Intercept article as co-sponsors of the bill, and Gothamist carried an article the same date entitled “Schumer, Gillibrand Co-Sponsor Senate Bill That Would Make Boycotting Israel A Felony”. The following day, another online reader-supported publication, Mondoweiss, carried an article complementing the critical pieces from The Intercept and Gothamist, assessing the impact of the bill on the progressive community. Entitled “Bill making it a federal crime to support BDS sends schockwaves through progressive community”, the article describes the bill as “crude example of overreach by the Israel lobby”. It is interesting that as of the date, July 20, 2017, none of the national daily mainstream/corporate media, in either print or television format, has picked up the story. This assertion can easily be verified through a simple Google search using the search phrase “[Name of media], S.720 – Israel anti-Lobby Act”. One may find coverage by them post-July 20, but that is after the fact.

One may wonder why. A clue is offered by Andrew Sullivan, writing for the New York Magazine on July 21, 2017. In a column dealing with a series of subjects entitled “The Triumph of Obama’s Long Game”, and after commenting that the proposed legislation – S.720 – contains features reminiscent of “creeping authoritarianism” – particularly the feature criminalizing participation by US citizens in a boycott against the Zionist State in protest against its illegal settlement activities, let alone other Zionist policies and practices in the occupied territories, subject to civil fine of up to $250,000 and a criminal fine of $1 million – and, therefore, are an “anathema to liberal democracy”, Sullivan concluded his column as follows: “Every now and again, you just have to sit back and admire the extraordinary skills of the Greater Israel lobby. You’ve never heard of this bill, and I hadn’t either. But that is partly the point. AIPAC doesn’t want the attention — writers who notice this attempted assault on a free society will be tarred as anti-Semites (go ahead, it wouldn’t be the first time) and politicians who resist it will see their careers suddenly stalled. I doubt a single sponsor of this bill will go on the record to oppose it (so far, none has). That’s how complete the grip of AIPAC is. And pointing out this special interest’s distortion of democracy is not the equivalent of bigotry. It’s simply a defense of our democratic way of life.” (Sullivan) (Italics added)

To be sure, the so-called Israel Lobby is an amorphous term. It does not suggest a monolithic structure as explained by Mearsheimer and Walt as follows: “We use ‘the Lobby’ as shorthand for the loose coalition of individuals and organisations who actively work to steer US foreign policy in a pro-Israel direction. This is not meant to suggest that ‘the Lobby’ is a unified movement with a central leadership, or that individuals within it do not disagree on certain issues. Not all Jewish Americans are part of the Lobby, because Israel is not a salient issue for many of them.” (Mearsheimer and Walt) However, most prominent and, admittedly most powerful, component of this lobby is one called the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) which has exerted perennial influence on the formulation of US foreign policy unprecedented in US history and unparalleled by any other ethnically-based lobbying group, not even by the now-weakening Cuban-American lobby, represented by the late Jorge Mas Canosa and his once-formidable Cuban-American National Foundation (CANF), which has pretty much determined US policy towards Cuba, including the US economic blockade, now over half a century old. (Bauzon, “Adaptation and Identity”)

Combine AIPAC’s efforts with those by several other organizations sharing similar or complementary agenda, e.g., the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Federation of America, the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organisations, the World Jewish Congress, and the Simon Weisenthal Center, among dozens of others, all powerful Israel-centered organizations in their own respective rights, full of clout politically and financially, then one can easily understand the extent to which the so-called Israel lobby, in its entirety, is very much a reality rather than just a figment of one’s imagination in US legislative and policy-making circles. Many of its members are in various government positions, more are in corporate positions, and much, much more are dual citizens of the US and the Zionist State. (“Members in US politics”) And virtually all of them make their influence felt financially, now that the US Supreme Court has not only recognized corporate personhood as part of US jurisprudence but has also removed all remaining restrictions to campaign contributions thus allowing big-money contributors to flood the political landscape and predetermine the outcome of elections. To gauge this clout, just imagine requiring anyone of these organizations, all working in the Zionist State’s behalf, to register in compliance with the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) as agents of a foreign state entity, one might get a quick retort, “What, are you kidding me?”, which goes to show how casual, ordinary, and normal it has been for individuals and organizations to openly work and advocate for a foreign state yielding for this state in 2016 alone, for instance, a total of $38 billion in tax-funded assistance over a ten-year period, quite unprecedented in the history of foreign-aid giving.

Such influence and clout over the US policy-making process may simply be gauged through a comparison between the AIPAC legislative agenda, on one hand, and the actual content of the said bill, on the other. AIPAC’s work is premised on its mission which it defines in its website, as follows: “[T]o strengthen, protect and promote the US-Israel relationship in ways that enhance the security of the United States and Israel.” AIPAC has considered it central in the fulfillment of this mission the combatting of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement (BDS) Movement which it describes in a 4-paged pamphlet entitled “AIPAC’s Approach to BDS, The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement”, as emerging “in an effort to stigmatize, delegitimize and isolate the State of Israel” by driving “a wedge between Israel and the rest of the world – separating Israel’s government, businesses, universities and people from their partners abroad.” In so doing, it identifies a two-fold task, namely: 1. “Counter threats to Israel posed by foreign governments and international organizations; and, 2. “Equip pro-Israel students to proactively address the challenges presented on U.S. college campuses.” AIPAC particularly aims its ire against what it describes as “State-Sponsored BDS”, such as those waged in various capitals of the world, particularly in Europe, and within inter-governmental institutions like the United Nations (UN) where “state-led BDS seeks to isolate Israel politically and economically by punishing those who work with the Jewish state.” It accuses the BDS Movement as a disguised “righteous movement” that “blames Israel – and only Israel – for the absence of peace. And it attacks the Jewish state with a moral code applied exclusively to Israel.” It adds: “In seeking to impose one-sided ‘solutions’ on Israel outside the bounds of a negotiated framework, BDS efforts undermine the prospects for peace by relieving Palestinians of the need to negotiate with Israel, and by promoting demands that forgo any expectation of compromise.” (“AIPAC’s Approach”) (Italics added)

College and university campuses are seen as a particularly important battleground for the hearts and minds of students. There, AIPAC claims that “[t]o date, only a handful of student governments have passed BDS resolutions, and in each case, the college or university has swiftly issued a repudiation.” It adds, with a sense of confidence if not vindication: “In fact, despite efforts of Israel’s detractors, no U.S. college or university has divested from Israel or companies doing business with Israel – and none is likely to do so.” Despite this apparent confidence that the BDS Movement could be defeated in college and university campuses, AIPAC and its constituents should not rest easy because despite this, “the real focus of BDS on campus is to create skepticism in the minds of students about Israel’s legitimacy. Seeds of doubt are intended to bloom decades later when the graduates hold positions of power and authority – and can withhold tangible support or even contest Israel’s right to exist.” (“AIPAC’s Approach”) (Italics added)

AIPAC has not been shy about the work it has done over the years “lobbying” the US Congress in order to counter what it regards as “diplomatic and economic warfare against Israel” as well as in countering the BDS Movement and the threat that it poses to the Zionist State. In its website, AIPAC proudly claims its successful contribution to the defeat of the Arab League Boycott during the 1970s through the passage in the US Congress of its key legislative initiatives preventing US-based companies from complying with that boycott. During the decades of the new millenium until the current priod, AIPAC also claims successful efforts at persuading the US Congress to include provisions in free trade agreements between the US and Arab states requiring an end to and cessation of their economic boycott of the Zionist State as condition for negotiations. Currently, the preoccupation is with the specific interrelated issues of enforcement of UN-mandated end to settlement activities as well as the European Union (EU)-led initiatives in the labeling of products produced and marketed by Israeli-based companies that do not declare specific origin, i.e., whether or not these products originated from illegally-occupied Palestinian territories, all being summarily regarded by AIPAC as anti-Semitic and examples of what it regards as “state-led BDS”. In more ways than one, these are important test cases where implications are profound. If, for instance, the UN and the EU yield to the Israeli-led anti-boycott movement on these issues which may not seem as serious or critical in comparison to other issues, e.g., end to the military occupation or insistence on the right of return for Palestinians, then both the UN and the EU shall have seemed effete where the ultimate aim of the anti-BDS movement is to paralyze and demobilize them whereever and whenever posible, with a lot of help from the Zionist State’s principal sponsor no doubt, the US, insofar as dealing with Zionist policies is concerned.

This leads us to AIPAC’s role in the crafting, introduction, and the hoped-for enactment of S.720 – Israel Anti-Boycott Act. Many if not most commentaries that anyone may randomly find on this piece of legislation since news of it was splashed in the media in the third week of July 2017 use the seemingly innocuous claim that AIPAC “assisted” in its drafting. The claim, first cited in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency‘s July 18, 2017 edition, has been repeated in numerous publications – both print and online – without elaboration as to the extent of AIPAC’s role in the bill’s drafting. One may liken AIPAC’s role to that of the ALEC’s (American Legislative Exchange Council’s) wherein various pieces of model legislation on any number of themes are offered to state legislatures around the US for enactment, with slight variations in each case from the rest. Or, one may assume that the legislators in the Hill have crafted the bill all on their own, word for word, if one can believe it, with AIPAC simply urging them on in the background. A clue in deciding on which scenario to believe in is a bit of information shared by Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Grim in their Intercept article on July 19. In this piece, Greenwald and Grim revealed that the lead sponsor of the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), was not even aware of the severe implications of this bill when he claimed, upon being asked, “he had no idea what was in his bill, ‘particularly insisting that it contains no criminal penalties’” when, in fact, it does! (Greenwald and Grim) And even if the sponsors and cosponsors of the bill are aware of the criminalization, this consequence is really quite secondary as implied in the response by Senator Chris Coons (D-DL) to a query by Greenwald and Grim for the same article, who said: “I continue to support a strong U.S./Israel relationship” apparently no mater the cost to First Amendment rights. (Greenwald and Grim)

Whichever scenario one chooses to believe in, it may not really matter that much in the end. The fact remains that enactment of the bill, in its entirety, is one of AIPAC’s top legislative priority for 2017 and, as stated in its website, it urges its constituent members, supporters, and sympathizers in the US to contact their respective legislators in their districts and states, and urge them “to cosponsor the Combating BDS Act of 2017 [a companion bill] and to cosponsor the Israel Anti-Boycott Act”. (“Fight the Boycott”) Combating BDS Act of 2017 too? What is the difference between this and the Israel Anti-Boycott Act?

How is AIPAC able to do all these? SARTE [Pen name] wrote in his blog, in his article entitled “AIPAC Zionists – the Archenemy of the American Nation”, dated May 22, 2011, the following: “AIPAC lobbyist Steve Rosen once bragged that he could get the signatures of seventy senators on a napkin if he chose to do so”. After discussing various instances of AIPAC’s political machinations in the US body politic, SARTE concludes: “Zionism has discredited itself in the eyes of most of the world. Only those suffering from congenital bêtise or mind-controlled denial would favor a foreign country over your own nation. Since so many people who claim a Jewish heritage reject the xenophobic policies of Israel, what justification exists that could convey a superior status for Israel? A Zionist or a NeoCon would scam you, but a real American would laugh in their face. As long as AIPAC renders loyalty to Israel over America, they are the archenemy of our country.” (SARTE) In fact, as Mearshimer and Walt have noted in their article cited above, AIPAC is a “de facto” agent of a foreign entity, the Zionist State, although virtually no one dares admit it as such! (Mearsheimer and Walt)

One of the obvious facts noted by SARTE is the bipartisan nature of this political support in which AIPAC and similar other other organizations enjoy near-unquestioning, even fawning, support from the Republican and the Democratic Parties, and their respective constituents among the Christian Zionist/evangelical communities. Complementing SARTE’s observation is Alan Hart who, in his article in Veteran’s Today, wrote: “With most Republicans who run for election to Congress now as willing as most Democrats to speak from Zionism’s script in order to secure Zionist lobby organized campaign funds and votes, it can be taken for granted that the applause Netanyahu will receive in Congress for his propaganda nonsense will match that he’ll get at AIPAC’s convention. The truth can be simply stated. On matters to do with Israel-Palestine, it is not the Congress of the United States of America.” (Hart) And, from the Democratic Party’s angle, there is the special role played by Jewish Democrats as analyzed by Philip Weiss, in his recent article in Mondoweiss, entitled “Bill making it a federal crime to support BDS sends shockwaves through progressive community”. In this piece, Weiss wrote categorically on this subject the following: “…the bill is about the Israel lobby’s presence inside the Democratic Party, and therefore of the role of conservative Zionist Jews inside the Democratic Party.” (Weiss, “Bill making”) Attesting to this is a statement from a leading Jewish Democrat, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), in a speech delivered at AIPAC’s Annual Policy Conference in 2010, in which he proudly declared at the conclusion of his speech the following:

Now let me close by telling you about my name. As some of you know, my name is a Hebrew word. “Schumer” comes from the Hebrew word “Shomer,” which means “guardian,” “watchman.” My ancestors were guardians of the ghetto wall of ? in Galicia, and when they came to Ellis Island, they said their name in Yiddish, “Shoymer”. And it got written down as “Schumer.” To you I say this: that name was given to me for a reason. For as long as I live, for as long as I have the privilege of serving in the Senate from New York, I will unflinchingly, unstintingly and with all of my strength be Shomer Yisrael, a guardian of Israel. Ladies and gentlemen, Am Yisrael Chai, in Israel and America, the Jewish nation lives now and forever. (Senator Schumer)

As for the contribution of Christian Zionists, even though admittedly less direct and not insignificant, Paul R. Pillar, a veteran in the US intelligence community and a Non-Resident Fellow at the Center for the Center for Security Studies of Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., has noted quite candidly offered, in his article appearing in LobebLog foreign policy, dated dated July 18, 2017, entitled “Why Religious Policies in Israel Matter to U.S. Gentiles”, the following prescient observation: “…the politics of U.S. backing for Israel is not just a function of American Jews, even insofar as religious motivations are involved. Evangelical Christians can be at least as conspicuous in offering zealous and unqualified support for Israel.” (Pillar) This, as Pillar criticized the conflation by the Zionist State and, by extension its supporters in the US Congress backing the bill under discussion, of criticism to its policies with anti-Semitism, arguing: “The conflation is false. Israeli policies are the policies of a government, not the expression of a religious faith or an ethnic group or a global community with an identity forged by history. To categorize any criticism of those policies as a manifestation of anti-Jewish prejudice is to say that such policies should never be subject to criticism; that would be neither good for Israel nor good for the policies of other countries toward Israel.” (Pillar) (Italics added)

Implications of this Zionist-centered lobbying not only on the legislative process but on the entire public policy-making apparatus of a presumably democratic government premised on transparency, accountability, and free and open participation by civil society groups are predictably dire. The definition of “national interest” becomes the monopoly of the powerful groups as the vision of a national purpose becomes skewed. Public policy is replaced by the particularistic agenda of powerful private groups. With the mainstream media largely silent, criticisms are muted, alternative views are suppressed, and the notion of civil society becomes distorted. Illustrative of the conditions described herein is the sordid case of Charles Freedman who was in no way an anti-Zionist. With his background in intelligence and foreign policy, then President Barack Obama nominated him in 2009 to head up the National Intelligence Council (NIC). But soon after his nomination was announced, there was an avalanche of vicious attacks against him and virulent opposition to his nomination so intense that he was compelled to withdraw from further consideration for the position. This opposition was spearheaded by who he identified as the “Israel Lobby” whose tactics he described as plumbing “the depths of dishonor and indecency and include character assassination, selective misquotation, the willful distortion of the record, the fabrication of falsehoods, and an utter disregard for the truth.” (Freedman) Freedman reflected back on the controversy, and was sanguine to presume that it was more about him personally rather than about his qualifications and competence for the office to which he was being nominated. He explained:

I am not so immodest as to believe that this controversy was about me rather than issues of public policy. These issues have little to do with the NIC and were not at the heart of what I hoped to contribute to the quality of analysis available to President Obama and his administration. Still, I am saddened by what the controversy and the manner in which the public vitriol of those who devoted themselves to sustaining it have revealed about the state of our civil society. It is apparent that we Americans cannot any longer conduct a serious public discussion or exercise independent judgment about matters of great importance to our country as well as our allies and friends.” (Freedman)

Mainstream Media Complicity

The experience of Australian journalists John Lyons and Anthony Loewenstein, guest panelists in Ellen Fanning’s television news program The Drum on Australia’s ABC news network, on July 24, 2017, is quite revealing about the Israel Lobby as Lyons and Loewenstein described what they have gone through while serving out their assignments in Jerusalem. When Fanning asked Lyons about an episode described in his new book, Balcony Over Jerusalem: A Middle East Memoir, in which he asked a ranking correspondent for the Agence France Presse (AFP) who among foreign correspondents he knew censored themselves when reporting on the Israeli-Arab conflict, Lyons responded:

He [the AFP correspondent] replied “Everybody”, and he’s one of the toughest bureau chiefs around. As part of the book, I interviewed the New York Times, the Economist, Reuters, AFP, and I found a common trait. Reuters even has their own special words that we’re allowed to use that won’t upset the Israelis. And I went there with the view that I’d been in Washington and New York, I would report it as I saw it. But every time I would write about settlements, something that’s factual, you get targeted, as a journalist. If you write the truth of what you see infront of you in Israel and the West Bank, you will be savagely targeted.” (The Drum)

Later in that same conversation, Loewenstein complemented Lyons’ testimony in which described in particular the role of the Israel Lobby in Australia, saying:

What John says is correct. I’ve been writing about it for 15 years. The way it often works is a journalist who is critical– Jewish, non-Jewish, Muslim, Palestinian, Christian, whatever– if you are critical of the settlements, if you are critical of the occupation, if you are critical of the Israeli government, if you are critical of the way the Israel lobby in Australia in my view perniciously and dishonestly pressures media organizations, ABC and others, and governments, you will be targeted privately or publicly. (The Drum)

Loewenstein adds, in particular reference to his experience in reporting on the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, he says:

Anyone who spends time in Israel or the West Bank or Gaza, which as John says has been occupied for 50 years … It’s now in my view permanent. We have to ask ourselves why so many people in the media and the political elites refuse to say the reality. Occupation that is permanent is something that is ugly…

There needs to be far more honesty with politicians here and journalists who don’t give in to Israel lobby bullying, which happens all the time. (The Drum)

A large part of the answer to Loewenstein’s wonderment as to why responsible people in the media as well as those in political leadership refuse to admit what, to reporters like Lyons and Loewenstein, should be an obvious reality lies in the persistent, systematic and deliberate suppression of just about any news shedding the Palestinian side of the story in any favorable light. City University of New York (CUNY) journalism professor Eric Alterman, in discussing a study in 2002, commented that mainstream media punditry is “dominated by people who cannot imagine criticizing Israel.” (As quoted in Mearsheimer and Walt) Pioneering scholars on the subject, Mearsheimer and Walt, cited Alterman’s 2002 study in which he (Alterman) listed sixty-one “columnists and commentators who can be counted on to support Israel reflexively and without any qualification.” On the flip side, Mearsheimer and Walt also note that, as Alterman has found, “just five pundits who consistently criticize Israeli actions or endorse Arab positions,” and, Mearsheimer and Walt add, “Newspapers occasionally publish guest op-eds challenging Israeli policy, but the balance of opinion clearly favours the other side. It’s hard to imagine any mainstream media outlet in the United States publishing a piece like this one.” (Mearsheimer and Walt)

News coverage also bear out the editorial bias in favor of Israel. This has been true especially among leading national and regional newspapers. For example, in a study conducted by the human rights organization, If American Knew (IAK), led by Allison Weir, of the coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by the San Francisco Chronicle (SFC), conducted for the period from September 29, 2000 to March 31, 2001, reveals a very disturbing pattern. In reporting on the categories of deaths and injuries, the IAK found “significantly inaccurate coverage [by the SFC] of these topics. We found a vast disparity in the likelihood of a death receiving coverage based on the ethnicity of the person killed. For the first six months of the current uprising, the San Francisco Chronicle reported on 111% of Israeli deaths and only 38% of Palestinian deaths in the headlines and/or the first paragraph of the 251 articles on the topic.” (Accuracy in Israeli/Palestine) The IAK study further reports (please see graph below) that the “discrepancy was even more exaggerated in the Chronicle coverage of the killing of children. During the six-month study period, Palestinian children were being killed at a far higher rate than Israeli children – 27% of Palestinians killed were under 18 (93 children), while only 6% of Israelis killed were minors (4 children). Yet, Chronicle headlines and/or first paragraphs reported the killing of only 5 Palestinian children, while headlines and/or first paragraphs reported 6 Israeli children killed (one Israeli teenager’s death was reported three times).” (Accuracy in Israeli/Palestine)

ifamericansknew

Source: If Americans Knew, in: http://ifamericaknew.org/media/chron/report.html

Complementing the IAK‘s study of the San Francisco Chronicle‘s performance is one conducted of the New York Times during two study periods, namely, from September 29, 2009 to September 29, 2001, and from January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2014 period wherein another Palestinian uprising commenced. (Please see charts below for the two study periods)

palestine-deaths

And,

Just like in the SFC study, the categories examined were coverage in the headlines and in first paragraphs of deaths in general, and of deaths of children, respectively. Herein is a summary of the IAK‘s main conclusion:

Our findings indicate significantly distorted coverage by The New York Times of these topics. In the first study period The Times reported Israeli deaths at a rate 2.8 times higher than Palestinian deaths, and in 2004 this rate increased by almost 30%, to 3.6, widening still further the disparity in coverage. The Times’ coverage of children’s deaths was even more skewed. In the first year of the current uprising, Israeli children’s deaths were reported at 6.8 times the rate of Palestinian children’s deaths. In 2004 this differential also increased, with deaths of Israeli children covered at a rate 7.3 times greater than the deaths of Palestinian children. Given that in 2004 22 times more Palestinian children were killed than Israeli children, this category holds particular importance. We could find no basis on which to justify this inequality in coverage. (Off the Charts)

Another interesting study is one produced by the media watchdog Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) conducted of the performance of a supposedly more objective public media organization, the National Public Radio (NPR). This study of NPR is particularly interesting in that the NPR has been accused by virtually all sides for bias. FAIR‘s study, however, reveals a categorical reality which puts into serious question NPR‘s “illusion of balance”, to borrow from the study’s title. (Ackerman) The categories used were similar to those used by IAK of its studies of the SFC and the NYT, respectively, i.e., civilian deaths in general, and deaths of children in particular. Reproduced below is FAIR’s findings:

Of the 30 Palestinian civilians under the age of 18 that were killed, six were reported on NPR—only 20 percent. By contrast, the network reported on 17 of the 19 Israeli minors who were killed, or 89 percent. While 61 percent of the young people killed in the region during the period studied were Palestinian, only 26 percent of those reported by NPR were. Apparently being a minor makes your death more newsworthy to NPR if you are Israeli, but less newsworthy if you are Palestinian.

An Israeli civilian victim was more likely to have his or her death reported on NPR (84 percent were covered) than a member of the Israeli security forces (69 percent). But Palestinians were far more likely to have their deaths reported if they were security personnel (72 percent) than if they were civilians (22 percent). Of the 112 Palestinian civilians killed in the Occupied Territories during the period studied, just 26 were reported on NPR. Of the 28 Israeli civilians killed in the Territories—mostly settlers—21 were reported on NPR.

These numbers suggest that NPR may attempt to pair reports of Israeli and Palestinian casualties in an effort to appear balanced. The network’s anchors often introduce Mideast stories with a quick summary of recent developments, almost always mentioning one or two recent attacks on Palestinians and one or two against Israelis. (Ackerman)

The examples cited herein give an important glimpse as to the nature of media bias particularly in the US in the reporting of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict to the utter detriment of the Palestinian side. This bias has been to such an extent that Stephen Lendman thought it appropriate to entitle an article he wrote on the subject as “The Greatest Story Never Told”. (Lendman) Lendman writes:

In all parts of the major media, no Israeli criticism is tolerated on-air or in print, and any reporter, news anchor, pundit or on-air guest forgetting the (unwritten) rules, won’t get a second chance. Support for Israel is ironclad, absolute, and uncompromising on everything including its worst crimes of war and against humanity. Open debate is stifled, and anyone daring to dissent or demur is pilloried, ridiculed, called anti-semetic (sic), even threatened, ostracized, and finally ignored.

The same goes for the rest of the dominant media that serve as collective national thought control police gatekeepers “filtering” everything we read, see and hear. They manipulate our minds and beliefs, program our thoughts, and effectively destroy the free marketplace of ideas essential to a healthy democracy. In America, that’s nowhere in sight. (Lendman)

And, long-time observer of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, John Pilger, found the mainstream media’s performance no more than a practice of propaganda rather than a demonstration of professional journalism. In a speech delivered at the Chicago Socialism Conference in June 2007, Pilger paid tribute to 2005 Nobel Prize awardee in literature, Harold Pinter, who made the connection between imperialism and fascism in his historic Nobel Prize acceptance speech. Pilger wrote:

Harold Pinter’s subversive truth, I believe, was that he made the connection between imperialism and fascism, and described a battle for history that’s almost never reported. This is the great silence of the media age. And this is the secret heart of propaganda today. A propaganda so vast in scope that I’m always astonished that so many Americans know and understand as much as they do. We are talking about a system, of course, not personalities. (Pinter, 2007)

That “great silence” from the media that Pilger referred to in that speech has been a great aider and abettor in the shaping of cumulative-driven US-led system of totalitarian conformity not only within the US but also worldwide through attempts to subjugate others to the US vision of its destiny. It is in this context that the role of the Zionist State in the subjugation of the Middle East and the theft of its resources must necessarily be understood. So vital has this role been to the US grand scheme for the greater Middle East and North African region that it has been willing to tolerate the Zionist State’s indiscretions in its use of intimidation tactics, including the use of force, against neighboring states; it has condoned its illegal occupation of the conquered territories in the 1967 war; it has feigned neutrality in brokering peace negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians while providing billions of dollars worth of assistance, on an annual basis, to the Israelis; it has provided diplomatic cover to the Zionist State in international fora when it came up for censure; and, it has looked the other way when Palestinians are humiliated on a daily basis, treated as less than humans, and told that they should look civil and non-violent as their land, water, and pride are taken away. When asked one time on an interview on Hub Radio, at the University West of England, in April 2008, why the US, as an empire, has behaved this way towards the Palestinians, the great dissident intellectual Noam Chomsky gave a short but chilling response. The Palestinians, he said, “have nothing to offer” to the US in realist terms. Chomsky explained: “Israel provides substantial services to US power, Palestinians on the other hand provide nothing. They have no wealth, they have no power, they are mostly a nuisance. They even have a negative value because their plight stirs up antagonism in what is called the ‘Arab Street’, the disdainful term for the Arab populations.” (“Noam Chomsky”)

Essential to pursuit of this grand scheme is the role the Pentagon has to play and, with outgoing President Barack Obama’s parting gift of $618 billion to it, along with the creation of the Orwellian “Center for Information Analysis and Response”, a ministry of truth as Pilger describes it, the world is in for hard reckoning. In his most recent piece, appearing on August 4, 2017, Pilger once again invokes Pinter’s profoundly honest and prophetic words in describing the “manipulation of power worldwide [by the US] while masquerading as a force for universal good, a brilliant, even witty. Highly successful act of hypnosis [which meant] that it never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest.” (Pilger, 2017) Further, Pilger notes the sorry role the mainstream media has played in distorting both history and current reality and, in so doing, performing what he describes as an intellectual “lobotomy … on each generation” in which the truth was inverted as when freedom was claimed to be defended when, in reality, it was being destroyed. (Pilger, 2017) This is particularly noticeable in the reporting of the Israel/Palestine conflict in which he wrote:

The enduring tragedy of Palestine is due in great part to the silence and compliance of the so-called liberal left. Hamas is described repeatedly as sworn to the destruction of Israel. The New York Times, the Associated Press, the Boston Globe—take your pick. They all use this line as a standard disclaimer, and it is false. That Hamas has called for a ten-year ceasefire is almost never reported. Even more important, that Hamas has undergone an historic ideological shift in the last few years, which amounts to a recognition of what it calls the reality of Israel, is virtually unknown; and that Israel is sworn to the destruction of Palestine is unspeakable. (Pilger)

Conclusion

Constraints imposed by time and space do not permit deeper exploration and more elaborate examples of media bias and the role of the Israel lobby in predetermining the outcome both of the US political process and the formulation of US foreign policy specifically with regards to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and, more broadly, Middle Eastern affairs. Pertaining to the media, future research may consider as topics worthy of exploration the nature of ownership and the ideological and political predispositions of the journalists and the editors, let alone the owners. And, insofar as the Israel lobby is concerned, critical examination of more recent examples of lobbying activities as well as an assessment of implications of these activities on the democratic process may be called for. Current issues such as attempts to criminalize the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement and declare it as “anti-Semitic”, with accompanying fines and punishments if one is found to engage in it; or, efforts on the part of the Zionist State to influence and shape public opinion in the US and, for that matter, elsewhere in the world, through enlistment of an army of hasbara trolls, are certainly appropriate topics for critical inquiry. So is the growing resistance among global civil society groups against these moves. A topic all its own worthy of inquiry, either on the theoretical or ideological level, is an examination and assessment of the presuppositions, including political motives, underlying attempts to re-define anti-Semitism so that any criticism of specific policies of the Zionist State would be considered as such, and consider along such questions as: What would it mean for the Zionist State to be placed in such a position that, like god, it becomes unassailable? And, What is the future of the Palestinian struggle for self-determination?

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About the author: A former Fulbright Summer Fellow to Israel and Egypt, Kenneth E. Bauzon is Professor of Political Science at Saint Joseph’s College – New York. Correspondence may be sent him at kbauzon@sjcny.edu.

 

One Comment

  1. K SHESHU BABU says:

    As expressed, there is a clear bias in mainstream media. There is a need to expose the truth which is being hidden

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