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The Middle East Propaganda War

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Photo Fraud in Gaza
(Image by Rabbi Shraga Simmons)
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br />Photo Fraud in Gaza by Rabbi Shraga Simmons

We live in the age of the televised war.   War as shock and shame has given way to war as entertainment and opining.   Most of the media gets high ratings for relatively little risk.   Although journalists do still die in "theater," gone are the days when the only way to get the story was to accompany soldiers for days on end in the muddy field, though these excursions were often more honest, less censored, and ultimately, more influential.

However, journalists ensconced in media towers are no longer necessarily safe. Israel is now targeting journalists there too, with high-speed planes firing more-or-less precision missiles, blowing up media headquarters, occupied or not .   Leila Fadel, NPR's Cairo bureau chief states:

"The Israeli bombardment of Gaza continued today by sea and air. According to local sources, one strike left a family of at least 10 - mostly women and children - dead. Another struck a media building and injured six journalists, raising concerns that journalists in Hamas-run area are now targets."

Journalists in Gaza demanded a UN investigation into why Israel "targeted them" in Gaza:

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"Reporters Without Borders called the Israeli attacks "deliberate" and, in a statement released Wednesday, stated that "journalists are entitled to the same protection as civilians and should not be regarded as military targets.'"

Israel claims that these journalists are biased towards the Gaza cause, though that does not excuse destruction of media property and the killing of those who work there.   A more complete analysis would have to include the reasons why Gaza-based journalists are uniformly pro-Palestinian, but then again, Israel can also claim that while Israeli territory allows for a wider range of opinions, even some pro-Palestinian, in Gaza, pro-Israel or even unbiased journalists risk their lives and can be accused of being CIA spies, a charge that can result in a brutal death.   According to one recent National Geographic reporter:

"Every time a journalist comes here, (a tunnel worker) shouted, a tunnel is bombed. How, he yelled, could he tell that we weren't spies? I'd noticed that when Ayman tried to persuade tunnel operators to speak with me, the word "Mossad" was often uttered. They presumed that if (camera operator) Paolo and I weren't with the CIA, we must be with the Israeli spy agency. The tunnel worker's paranoia is understandable, given that Israel's surveillance of Gaza is constant, as the ceaseless buzz of drones overhead attested."

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There are hundreds of tunnels in Gaza and constructing them is both a vital lifeline and a major source of employment for its citizens.


Both sides of the recent skirmish in the crowded and teeming Palestinian-Gaza territory have taken advantage of this confusion to engage in a propaganda war, filled with misleading and even dishonest depictions that the too-trusting mainstream media have been complicit in promoting.   That media war now includes, on the Palestinian side, s pecifically: photos that have been doctored (sometimes showing multiple images of the same post-explosion "smoke plume"), set up (with incongruous elements like children's stuffed toys lying in pristine condition amid piles of rubble, for example, implying that children were in the area), false attributions (sometimes deliberately) of Israeli attacks that turn out to be "friendly fire" accidents from Hamas rockets, or staged attacks (with prone figures imitating wounded or grieving victims, who then show up at other sites weeks later, in seemingly the same condition, or who walk away right after the photo shoot, unharmed). 

See a 3-minute clip here: The inside story of the media war against Israel.

The man in the photo in this article's opening was filmed just a few minutes after this was taken, walking around and apparently unhurt.   And yes, it does seem as though the militants in Gaza sometimes use people as human shields deliberately, as a tactic to inflame the West (it's working).

But, if the Gaza media is so complicit and biased, and so easily proven to be so, what is behind the Israeli strategy to bomb media centers too, beyond simple demoralization and sowing confusion among Gaza residents?  Why not allow the Gaza media to embarrass itself with false stories, or are there other specific examples of Gaza media reporting Israel is trying to suppress?  This report from Russia Today describes specific targeting of Gaza media sites and personnel: http://rt.com/news/gaza-media-center-strike-977/.   A responding tweet by the IDF:

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Israeli Defense Forces Tweet by IDF

was nonsensical.    Why would the IDF target general media to prevent Gaza commanders from communicating with each other?  That is an entirely different set of channels, equipment, personnel, and purposes, etc.   If they're not, than Israel needs to show more clearly how the media in Gaza is directly aiding and abetting the enemy.

The New York Times' David Carr might have uncovered some of the new conflicts-of-interest when he wrote:

"But other factors are worth considering. At a time when news outlets in the United States are cutting foreign operations for monetary reasons, cheap and ubiquitous technology has lowered the entry barrier for others who want to engage in journalism, some of whom are already in the theater of conflict and may have partisan motives. Many of those newer players are young and inexperienced in ways that make them particularly vulnerable in the middle of dangerous conflicts.

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Scott Baker is a Managing Editor & The Economics Editor at Opednews, and a blogger for Huffington Post, Daily Kos, and Global Economic Intersection.

His anthology of updated Opednews articles "America is Not Broke" was published by Tayen Lane Publishing (March, 2015) and may be found here:

Scott is a former President of Common Ground-NYC (http://commongroundnyc.org/), a Geoist/Georgist activist group. He has written dozens of articles for (more...)

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