November 6, 2011 · 0 Comments
By Michael McGehee:
In another great demonstration of the bias of the “paper of the record” in favor of the Western establishment we learn of the recent “interception” of a couple of boats in the Mediterranean Sea carrying “27 pro-Palestinian activists, journalists and crew members from nine countries who were challenging Israel’s maritime blockade of the Palestinian enclave.” According to Isabel Kershner’s article, “Israel Intercepts Two Boats Bound for Gaza,” we are told that,
The Israeli military intercepted activists sailing toward Gaza on Friday, boarding their two small boats in international waters and leading them instead to the Israeli port of Ashdod.
And while Kershner assures us that unlike the raid on the Mavi Marmara in May 2010 where ”Israeli commandos raided a large flotilla and fatally shot nine protesters”: ”[t]he episode ended with no reports of violence or injuries.” However, it is the disparity in language that is alarming, not that Israel didn’t carry out a massacre this time.
According to Ed Herman and Noam Chomsky, in their book Counter-Revolutionary Violence: Bloodbaths in Fact and Propaganda, the Western media treats incidences differently based on their relation to political and economic power. There are “constructive” cases where the culprit, or the main interests being served, is the U.S.; then there are “benign” cases where the perpetrator is an ally; followed by”nefarious” cases, which are those carried out by whoever happens to be an “enemy,” or target of the U.S. and its allies; and finally, “mythical” incidences, which much like nefarious cases, serve the interests of the U.S. but are not true (i.e. Iraqi troops pulling Kuwaiti babies from incubators).
This recent “interception” gets presented as self-defense by Israel because they are maintaining a blockade on Gaza in order “to prevent weapons from entering Gaza, where they can be turned on Israel.” Not only was it widely known that the two boats were delivering aid, and not weapons, even Kershner admits that “The Israeli authorities view the efforts to break the blockade as provocations intended to embarrass Israel and undermine its security,” thus confirming the “interception” has nothing whatsoever to do with why Israel claims to be blockading Gaza. And while the article does mention that the activists on the boats are trying to break the blockade because they see it as illegal (the article also fails to explore the legality more deeply than it can), and that “the activists say the blockade punishes too many innocent Palestinians,” it’s Kershner’s language that should be carefully considered.
Let’s turn to an article published by the New York Times on October 8, 1985 (“SHIP CARRYING 400 SEIZED; HIJACKERS DEMAND RELEASE OF 50 PALESTINIANS IN ISRAEL“) where Palestinians “intercept” a ship in order to serve their political interests. Here, we are informed in a much different manner that it is not an “interception,” but a “hijacking”—a legal term that carries a much stronger negative connotation.
Heavily armed men hijacked an Italian cruise ship with more than 400 people aboard in the Mediterranean on Monday and demanded the release of 50 Palestinians from Israeli prisons.
And throughout the article we routinely see comments like “The leader of the hijackers . . .” and, “when [the Achille Lauro] was hijacked . . .” and “before the hijacking.” In total the incident is referred to as a hijacking no less than twenty times in an article spanning no more than 1,383 words.
That the Israeli soldiers are not referred to as “heavily armed men,” and that the most the New York Times can do is call the illegal seizure of a ship in international waters—it’s worth pointing out that the article never points this out—an “interception” is a clear example of propaganda. And with Israel having a relationship with the U.S. that President Obama calls “rock solid,” and the Palestinians not (especially considering the U.S. is holding UNESCO hostage for having the audacity to recognize Palestine as a permanent member in the agency), it is also clear which incident serves as a “benign” case, and which serves as a “nefarious” one.
But the “benign” versus “nefarious” doesn’t stop there. There was an American killed on the Achille Lauro: Leon Klinghoffer, who was murdered and thrown overboard. The first month at the New York Times yielded nearly 100 articles condemning the murder. But an American who was killed on the Mavi Marmara—Furkan Doğan, who was shot in the back of the head execution-style—saw the NYT only providing enough space to mention the death in two articles.