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THE MEDIA COVERAGE OF GAZA: Many Questions, Few Answers.

By Danny Schechter  Posted by Rob Kall (about the submitter)     Permalink
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New York, New York August 20: The week of the great Gaza disengagement is over--and what did we learn?

We learned that even a right-wing government in Israel is capable of taking initiatives for peace as well as for war, And that its army and police can act in a disciplined and non-violent manner despite a history of complaints of excessive force and human rights abuses

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We learned that Israel is as divided as the United States, fragmented along many political and religious faultiness.

We learned that not all Israelis are believers in American democratic values nor are they the legendary pioneers and Kibbutzniks who made the desert bloom. Many are hard-core true believers in a wild-eyed messianic missions that put biblical beliefs above international law.

We learned that there are Jewish fanatics--who some in the Israeli Defense Force called "lunatics"-- who are driven by as much hatred and fundamentalist dogma as anyone on the "other side." And many of them are not natural born "Sabras" either-- but hostile transplants from Brooklyn with all the self-righteousness of born again Israel's..

We learned again that Jews also commit violent acts of terror as in the unprovoked killing of Palestinian workers or the assaults on soldiers with acid.

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We learned that the TV media can still cover events outside the United States not just affecting Americans, with some depth and for more than a sound bite even when Michael Jackson or Madonna are not around.

Note the emphasis on "some depth" because the coverage was deeply flawed and all too characteristic of the simplistic way TV news covers politics.

TV Thrives on Conflict

TV thrives on conflict, drama and the plight of "sympathetic" victims. Initially, at least the settlers played that role in what was pictured as a tragic dilemma that forced good people to lose their heir homes and faith in their leaders.

CNN compared their protests to the passive resistance of the American civil rights movement with many stories featuring crying women and beleaguered men of God. Israel itself was pictured sympathetically as country that was doing the right thing against its own interests.

As it became clear that many of the resisters were not settlers at all, they were turned into vague "sympathizers" or "activists" standing up for their country and religion. Only later when come turned violent, did the news frame change and it was clear that many had violent agendas.

Even as the Israeli media branded them "infiltrators" and right -wing extremists, CNN was caught up images offered up with little historic context or background. One "BREAKING NEWS" title said "Protesters Throw Things."

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We never really learned who "they" were, what they believed, or who was funding them.

Or, for that matter, who funding the billion dollar disengagement which rewarded most of the families who did go willingly from their state- sanctioned subsidized communities with $400,000 apiece, presumably to be paid eventually by US taxpayers.

Why? The Unasked Question

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