In an unusual live Wednesday morning broadcast, I finally produced the 2nd episode of Digital Crossroads of the year. I’ve been reading and highlighting and writing about Gaza. This show is about thinking critically before you trust what you read in the news.
Below you can click to listen to the 30-minute show as it aired on Boise Community Radio and Radio Free Moscow. If you make it all the way through the show, please check out the additional 10 minutes I did live this morning on RadioBoise.org covering Obama’s support from the “defense lobby” as well as reports inside Gaza. Hear from Vittorio Arrigoni, an Italian human rights activist, and from Sameh Habeb, a Palestinian photographer. More links and photos after the jump.
To download or stream the show, click here- Gaza: Wake Up America (mp3)
Check out an additional 10 minutes here- DC 2009 B-Side (mp3)
In a story published Jan. 9th by Alternet from New America Media, Shane Bauer covers “What You’d Know About Israel if you Watched Al Jazeera TV.”
He writes, the 350 reporters who descended on Israel when the conflict began are stuck at the border between Israel and Gaza. Instead of giving their viewers up-close pictorial evidence of what is occurring in Gaza, television networks have been restricted to showing their viewers plumes of smoke as they rise in the distance.
“There is nowhere safe in Gaza,” an enraged John Ging, head of the UN Relief and Works Agency in Gaza told Al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros in front of the Al Shifa hospital Thursday. Those words came after the Israeli Defense Forces bombed a UN school that was being used as a refuge. Later in the day, a second UN school was struck by the Israelis, killing at least 40. Ging insisted, “Everyone here is terrorized and traumatized and they have the right to be because there is no safe haven… This violence needs to stop now. Neither side can wait for the other to stop first.”
Meanwhile the world’s only live coverage of the tragedy is kept away from American eyes. While Al Jazeera English competes with CNN and BBC as one of the largest networks in the world, no major American cable provider has been willing to carry the channel since it launched in 2006. But Al Jazeera is finding its way around the problem. Today, Americans can download Livestation, a free program that wil let viewers watch Al Jazeera English and other international networks.
Here’s a timeline looking back at news you likely haven’t seen if you have depended on US network TV and corporate newspapers over the past 2 weeks…
Jan 13- BBC News
Palestinian medical sources say 920 people have been killed in Gaza so far, of whom 292 were children and 75 were women. Israeli officials say 13 Israelis, including 3 civilians, have been killed.
Israel is still preventing international journalists from entering Gaza, making it impossible independently to confirm casualty figures.
Israeli planes have attacked more than 60 targets in Gaza as its offensive against Hamas entered its 18th day. Thirteen rocket or mortar attacks were launched from Gaza on Tuesday, Israeli police said. No one was hurt.
Human rights group al-Mizan in Gaza said more than 90,000 people had fled their homes during the violence. About 31,000 of them were staying at UN-run schools in Gaza City, which are full, in Jabliyah camp and Shati camp. The other 60,000 were staying with neighbors and relatives.
UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon said there had been too much civilian suffering, that the fighting in Gaza should halt immediately. “In Gaza, the very foundation of society is being destroyed: people’s homes, civic infrastructure, public health facilities and schools.”
Jan 13- Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) Media Advisory
Indiscriminate attacks on civilian targets are illegal under international humanitarian law. However questions of legality are almost entirely off the table in the US media.
Only two network evening news stories (NBC Nightly News, 1/8/09, 1/11/09) have even mentioned international law, totalling a mere 3 percent of stories that NBC, ABC and CBS’s newscasts have broadcast on the Israeli military offensive since it began Dec. 27.
Jan 13- Al Jazeera, Mark Levine, U of CA, Irvine prof of Middle East history
The argument that this is a purely defensive war, launched only after Hamas broke a six-month ceasefire has been challenged, not just by observers in the know such as Jimmy Carter, the former US president who helped facilitate the truce, but by center-right Israeli intelligence think tanks.
The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center’s Dec. 31 report confirmed that the June 19 truce was only “sporadically violated, and then not by Hamas but instead by… rogue terrorist organizations.” Instead, “the escalation and erosion of the lull agreement” occurred after Israel killed six Hamas members on Nov. 4 without provocation and then placed the entire Gaza Strip under an even more intensive siege the next day.”
The United Nations has flatly denied Israeli claims that Palestinian fighters were using the UNRWA school compound bombed on Jan. 6, in which 40 civilians were killed, to launch attacks, and has challenged Israel to prove otherwise.
Who will save Israel from herself? … Not the organized Jewish leadership in the US and Europe, who are even more blind to what is happening than most Israelis, who at least allow internal debate about the wisdom of their government’s policies.
… And not senior American politicians and policy-makers who are either unwilling to risk alienating American Jewish voters, or have been so brainwashed by the constant barrage of propaganda put out by the “Israel Lobby” that they are incapable of reaching an independent judgment about the conflict.
Jan 12- Huffington Post, James Zogby, founder of Arab American Institute
How Israel’s Propaganda Machine Works: Define the terms of debate, and you win the debate. Recognize that stereotypes work. Be everywhere, and say the same thing, and make sure your opponents remain as invisible as possible. Give no ground. Deny, deny, deny.
Jan 12- AP
Joe the Plumber, whose real name is Samuel Wurzelbacher, has become a rookie war correspondent, covering the Israeli perspective for conservative website pjtv.com. There is a clip of him online in which he says to a man he is interviewing in Sderot that he has many questions but he can’t think of any of them.
“Why hasn’t Israel acted sooner?” Wurzelbacher asked. “I know if I were a citizen here, I’d be damned upset. He described himself as a peaceloving man, but added, “When someone hits me, I’m going to unload on the boy. And if the rest of the world doesn’t understand that, I’m sorry.”
Wurzelbacher, who underwent intense media scrutiny during his 15 minutes of campaign fame, said pjtv enlisted him to cover Israel because he’s an expert on media bias.
“I was on the short end of the stick, like Israel is now.”
Jan 11- AP, Ibrahim Barzak, Christopher Torchia
International aid groups say Israel must do more to ensure the safety of civilians. They note that civilians are in many cases unable to flee to safe places in Gaza, and are essentially trapped because the territory’s exits are closed.
The UN agency in charge of Palestinian refugees has resumed operations after suspending them because of Israeli attacks on its convoys. UN aid vehicles were moving around Gaza on Sunday and UN workers tended to about 30,000 people in shelters, but aid officials warned that the dire security situation made it impossible to operate at full capacity.
“This is a very small fraction of what we normally do in the Gaza Strip,” said Filippo Grandi of the UN Relief and Works Agency. “Things might get worse.”
Israel has warned Gaza residents of a wider offensive. On Sunday, it dropped leaflets urging Gaza residents to report the whereabouts of Hamas fighters, providing a phone number to call.
British Mideast envoy Tony Blair and Germany’s foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, visited Jerusalem Sunday, supporting Israel, while claiming to seek a truce.
Jan 11- AP, Jason Keyser
Human Rights Watch said Sunday that Israel’s military has fired artillery shells with the incendiary agent white phosphorus into Gaza and a doctor there said the chemical was suspected in the case of 10 burn victims who had skin peeling off their faces and bodies.
Researchers in Israel from the rights group could not confirm injuries on the ground because they have been barred from entering the territory.
Israel used white phosphorus in its 34-day war with Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006. The US military in Iraq used the incendiary during a Nov. 2004 operation in Fallujah.
Israel is not party to a convention regulating its use. Under customary laws of war, however, Israel would be expected to take all feasible precautions to minimize the impact of white phosphorus on civilians, Human Rights Watch said.
Human Rights Watch senior military analyst Marc Garlasco said photos published Thursday in British newspaper The Times showed Israeli units handling American-manufactured white phosphorus shells with fuses on them.
Jan 10- Editor & Publisher
Three weeks into the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza, The New York Times editorial page has barely mentioned the severe Israeli-enforced press restrictions that have hampered all media coverage from the war zone, including reporting on civilian casualties. The Times carried on brief mention in one editorial but no full editorial or repeated calls.
On the other hand, the Tel Aviv daily Haaretz included the subject in its own editorial Sunday, which concluded: “The IDF’s manipulations of the media, which willingly cooperates, may be good for the army, but it’s very bad for Israeli democracy.”
Jan 9- Committee to Protect Journalists
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemns the Israeli military’s bombing today of a Gaza City building that houses the offices of a number of international news organizations.
The Israeli Dense Forces (IDF) attacked the rooftop of Al-Johara Tower. It is an eight-story building located in Al-Rimal neighborhood in Gaza City, which houses more than 20 international news organizations, according to multiple news outlets. At least one journalist was injured.
At least one journalist has been killed in Gaza in direct relation to his work since the Israeli offensive began on Dec. 27, CPJ research shows. Basil Ibrahim Faraj, an assistant cameraman for the Palestinian Media and Communications Company, died on Tuesday at a hospital in Egypt after suffering head injuries when his crew came under fire on the first day of the military campaign.
Media facilities have come under Israeli fire in two other instances since the military campaign started. On Jan. 5, the IDF bombed the offices of the Hamas-affiliated Al-Risala newsweekly, according to multiple news agencies. On Dec. 29, the IDF shelled the headquarters of Al-Aqsa TV, destroying the facilities. The IDF has sporadically taken over the frequencies of Al-Aqsa to call on Palestinians to abandon Hamas.
Jan 8- New York Times, op-ed by Rashid Khalidi
Israel is still widely considered to be an occupying power, even though it removed its troops and settlers from the strip in 2005. Israel has control over Gaza’s air space and seacoast, and its forces enter the area at will. The blockade of fuel, electricity, imports, exports and movement of the people has led to life-threatening problems of sanitation, health, water supply and transportation.
Negotiation is a much more effective way to deal with rockets and other forms of violence. This might have been able to happen had Israel fulfilled the terms of the June cease-fire and lifted its blockade of the Gaza Strip. This war on the people of Gaza isn’t really about rockets. Moshe Yaalon, then the IDF chief of staff, said in 2002: “The Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people.”
Jan 5- The Independent, Robert Fisk
Keeping out the cameras and reporters simply doesn’t work.
Jan 2- Dissident Voice, Stephen Lendman
The dominant media vilify Hamas, stay silent about Gazan suffering, are mute on the crippling blockade, its devastating human toll, and practically champion Israel’s call for “all-out war” and the slaughter of defenseless men, women, children and infants.
On Dec. 30 at 5:00 AM, Israeli gunboats (without warning) attacked the humanitarian boat Dignity (in international waters 90 miles from Gaza) bringing three tons of medical supplies. It was rammed three times, heavily damaged, and took on water. It managed to get to the Lebanese port of Tyre in the afternoon. The Free Gaza Movement founder, Paul Laurdee, said 11 Israeli vessels surrounded Dignity, ordered it to stop, but it refused.
The New York Times was silent on the incident.
According to the Jerusalem Post, the Bush administration also supplied the Israeli Air Force with “a new bunker-buster missle” called GBU-39, a small-diameter bomb for low-cost, high-precision, minimal collateral damage strikes.
Congress authorized 1000 of them in Sep, and defense officials said the first shipment arrived in early Dec. for use in penetrating underground Gaza Kassam launcher sites and bombing Egyptian border tunnels in Rafah through which emergency supplies were funneled.
Israel’s PR spin began before the assault. According to the Guardian, “the foreign ministry honed its message and ammassed its staff” and in Sderot, a multilingual media center was opened to brief foreign journalists. Everything was orchestrated. Tzipi Livni briefed around 80 international representatives and dignitaries in the Sderot media center. She also called foreign ministers in half a dozen powerful countries.
Israel is a serial aggressor. Its lawlessness can no longer be tolerated. Mass outrage and world pressure must build for a global campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions until its human rights abuses stop, its war crimes are punished, its occupation and colonization end, Palestinian refugees have the right to return, and the people of Gaza and the West Bank achieve their long-denied self-determination rights in an internationally recognized sovereign state, free from Israeli oppression. For people of conscience, that’s Resolution One for the New Year.
Jan 1- Dissident Voice, Belen Fernandez
The Israeli Foreign Ministry was tasked with staging a global PR assault according to an article in Haaretz. One component of the assault was the forced exodus of all ministry officials presently vacationing in Israel, and their reinstallation in their respective foreign outposts. Speakers of various languages might explain the situation in Gaza to visiting media representatives. Tzipi Livni’s view on political accountability, she informed the Knesset, was that commitment to democracy could not get in the way of protecting Israeli citizens.
More than 100,000 demonstrators in Spain opposed Israel’s attack on Gaza.
The UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution condemning Israel’s military offensive in Gaza. Read the article here.
“Wake up America,” Kucinich said on the House of the US Congress. He read from the Washington Post about Israel preventing ambulances from rescuing children and mothers who died from the attacks. The US Senate passed a non-binding resolution in support of Israel’s attack and by default, killing of civilians. Dennis Kucinich speaks out against Congress’ blind support of Israel.
Italian human rights activist Vittorio Arrigoni writes for newspaper Il Manifesto and is being carried currently on Global Voices Online. Do not click on his blog Guerrilla Radio unless you can handle seeing photographs of children killed.
“Everything you can imagine, we do not have,” Gaza-based journalist Sameh Habeeb told Zahra Hankir of Indypendent. He is forced to live in a home with nearly all of his immediate family, with hardly any food.
Digital Crossroads airs on Boise Community Radio and Radio Free Moscow, community radio stations in Idaho. Music by Ooah, The Tasteful Nudes and Ocote Soul Sounds & Adrian Quesada. Wednesday afternoon, following my show, Radio Free Moscow aired an episode of Sprouts, distributed by Pacifica Radio, focused on rebuilding in Rafah, Gaza.