Last week I read a highly interesting and thought-provoking essay on Al-Jazeera, albeit not the most interesting of stories I have ever shared with readers. I will elaborate a little further to make clear why my reading last week should be of interest to anyone on earth other than because, well I said so. The article in question was a piece written by Joseph Massad for the Al Jazeera English service and was titled “The Last of the Semites”, in his article Massad discussed the racist nature of Zionism and demonstrated how as an ideology it is based on many of the very same racist presumptions made by the most virulent anti-Semitists. This however, while explaining my own interesting in the article, is still not why this story is of interest to the reader. The reason I have discussed this story is that not long after the article was posted it was also pulled in a bizarre move by the senior editors to seemingly sate Israel’s baying hounds despite AJE’s reputation as being one of the few media sources which can be relied upon for a balanced discussion of Israel compared to many of the other leading sources of news outside of the region.
As one commentator, Ali Abunimah at Electronic Intifada highlighted in the wake of this event the decision seems even more bizarre considering that of the channels few red lines as far as the owner, the Emir of Qatar, is concerned – Massad has crossed all of these previously by previously publishing articles critical of both Qatari Foreign policy and the the Emir without once being censured. That the straw that broke the camels back in this case was pressure from Israel will come as no great surprise to anyone who has seen figureheads of world opinion operate against other dissenting voices on the countries policies in the past. Take for example Ali Abunimah, one of the editors in chief if not THE editor in chief at Electronic Intifada who is regularly slandered with every term that forms the varied spectrum of insults that Israel’s defenders will use to try through a policy of attrition to make something stick in the hope of rendering the victims opinions null and void. This policy is so school yard it is at times hard to believe that a country with perhaps the worlds most effective PR team (our of necessity rather than skill) is its chief user. If for example – I became engaged in an argument as to whether apples are better than oranges with my arch enemy and instead of offering evidence I simply shouted swear words at my enemy at the top of my voice until people in the audience began to agree with my shouted opinion – have I really won the argument ? or simply stopped myself from losing by being unable to present any relevant facts that backup my opinions. Much as this has been in the policy used against Abunimah and various other voices in the past, it was also the policy used by the attack dogs against Massad in the wake of this articles publication on the AJE website. Here are two choice examples in tweet form from just two of Israel’s most prominent public defenders:
“Congratulations, al Jazeera: You’ve just posted one of the most anti-Jewish screeds in recent memory”
“Congratulations, donors to Columbia University, for paying this monstrous fuckhead’s salary!”
what we can see here is fairly typical of this approach in that there is no balance attempted (granted its twitter and characters are limited but the point stands as balance on twitter can appear in tweets that follow an original) and there’s an appeal to a third party rather than directly to Massad himself asking him to clarify what his post meant which I presume aims at raising hackles over criticism in the press in an attempt to get third parties to self censor so to speak.
Since writing these paragraphs AJE have made a rather humiliating about face on the Massad article and restored it to its rightful place on the website. While this makes some of the statements above mildly irrelevant the overall theme of this post has remained unchanged and so I will continue without drastically altering the piece itself.
However unique this story is in many ways, it is also fairly atypical of the media’s relations with Israel as a whole which is problematic only in the sense that the representations that the lions share of the media present of Israel are utterly false in their one-sidedness. Take for example the discussion of any forces that are involved in the conflict as a clear demonstration of the media’s cognitive and seemingly inherent bias in Israel’s favour. It is true as the media should report that there is armed conflict between the Israeli army and Palestinians. Notice what words didn’t follow Palestinians then, here are a few that spring to mind as notable for their lack of an appearance “Army, Units, Regiments, Squads, Forces”. The media chooses, seemingly through omission, to neglect to inform the audience of the massive disparity in the forces involved in the conflict with “battles often consisting of whole armed brigades of the IDF on one side facing off against one or two Palestinians who may or may not be militants. When the Media chooses to neglect these details in its reportage of conflict between the two parties it presumably does so for two reasons:
- To actually reveal troop numbers to audiences around the world might finally put the final nail in the coffin of the deluded fantasy that the Israeli Defence Force is anything of the sort.
- Again, to reveal troop numbers to audiences around the world might also put paid to the Zionist myths that Israel is surrounded by hordes of rabid enemies, just waiting to pounce on the innocent jews, that has helped them to achieve so much support and recognition in the wider world.
What we can see in these justifications above are just two possible examples that the Western media might have for self-censoring their content in favour of Israel, although I am not saying that these are the concrete reasons behind every bizarre editorial decision that is made that seems to support Israel. No, I won’t suggest that as I know there is an equally pressing force which defines a worrying amount of what is and isn’t reported in the worlds media and that is… money.
The whole money aspect was something I was going to touch on anyway as it does define a lot of what is covered or not covered in the case of Israel but, after the Massad article was reposted on AJE, as if to prove my point Electronic Intifada did some digging and found financial reasons to be behind the original censorship of the article. According to research conducted by EI, the manager of the new US branch of Al Jazeera was concerned about the impact that such an article would have in US markets which are extremely sensitive to criticisms of the Zionist state. While these concerns perhaps warrant some thought they certainly do not in any way validate the decision to remove the article as to do simply demonstrates that the US market for information (amongst many others) is dictated by Zionists and that truly no source is free of the immense stifling effect Israeli power has on free speech. As a parting thought I would simply ask the reader to think about the veracity of any information they have ever received from the mass media about Israel when it has proven powerful enough to censor the one network that has prided itself in the past on providing a counter argument to the usual points made in the countries defence.