America’s Humanity Depends on the TV Lens


Mohamed Khodr’s Column

Within minutes of the horrific suicide bomber attack in Jerusalem that killed 12 and injured 180 innocent Israeli civilians in West Jerusalem, all the cable networks, CNN, FOX, MSNBC had extensive live coverage of the bloody chaotic scene. Astonishingly and immediately former Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, was on all three networks giving his assessment of the situation, blaming Arafat personally, and calling for hard retributions against the Palestinians. In addition to Netanyhau, Israel had its spokespersons readily available on the scene being interviewed on all three networks. On the websites of the Washington Post, New York Times, Ha’aretz in Israel, and several other papers, an AP photo of an Israeli fireman (the tie in to American firefighters at the World Trade Center must not be lost) calling for help with burning fire behind him adds to the horrific gruesome imagery.

Imagery, photos, sound bytes, faxes, emails, and public relation campaigns have been cynically, hypocritically, and most successfully used by Israel and its Pro-Israel lobbies and media experts. Such elite spin doctors are devoid of the humanity of grief and sorrow for their own Israeli citizens and families as long as it means “scoring” points with the American public and more importantly with the American government, especially “the Israel can do no wrong” Congress.

Israel knows that Americans are moved by pictures and sounds thus it ensures its bloody story is immediately front and center on American television, the great formulator of thoughts and emotions, while simultaneously denying the same media courtesy and value to the victims of Israel’s assassinations, bulldozing of homes, F-16 bombings, tank shelling of schools and hospitals, Jewish settler attacks, burning of olive farms, mass arrest and torture of Palestinians, killing of Palestinian children, constant evictions of refugees for settler roads and swimming pools, confiscation of water wells and pipes, and dumping of settler sewage on Palestinian refugee camps. America has learned this media lesson well in its “War on (Muslim) Terrorism”. The pent up frustration and anger in the “Pent”-a-gone of having the largest most powerful military with the latest untested technological weapons now finally has a war to pacify the lustful generals. Now the Pentagon can drop its oversized bombs on a stone aged Afghanistan to its heart’s content whether on civilians, children, refugees, armed bandits, or whomever, without hearing a bleep of criticism from the public as long as it “unplugs” the media and its cameras. That’s the main reason Vietnam was lost and the Persian Gulf and Serbian war were won. NO CAMERAS to interfere with the killing fields. Thus the new world order of wars upon world civilians is simply “killing without pictures”, keep the masses huddled in malls playing video arcade games while the military plays video Armageddon games.

Not only does the media influence the masses but it also ensures the requisite response of our political leaders. Political science has become a subservient category of the Science of Communications. The news cycle on a daily basis becomes the political priority of our leaders from what they think, to what they decide, to how they should feel and look, to how they dress. Politicians become actors on the media stage vying for their Oscars, Emmys, and Tony’s for popular decisions manufactured by hairstylists, dressers, make up artists, cameramen, speech coaches, speech writers, image makers, pollsters, focus group experts, and teleprompter operators. Bush became a popular President not for peace making or policy breakthroughs but simply for delivering a speechwriter’s words effectively before Congress. The pundits who think for us proclaimed it “great” so “we” proclaimed it great. Never mind that Bush’s speech alienated the entire world by giving it the simple ultimatum “it’s the American way or no way.” How democratic of our media run democracy.

Ideally in a world that worships God would believe all lives are sacred. But in the reality of the Judeo (Israel) – Christian (America) world that is “democratic and free” with “equality” for all, only the lives of Jews and Christians are valued, especially the lives of Jews anywhere.

Never in the 53 history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has an American President, a member of Congress, a newspaper editor, a television correspondent or anchorman, or a radio reporter EVER condemned Israel for killing Palestinians, Lebanese, Egyptians, Syrians, Libyans, Tunisians, Iraqi’s, or Jordanians, Christian or Muslim. The only time an American President personally issues a strong condemnation with associated threats is when ISRAELI’s die but never when Palestinians die, although they die in larger numbers and are often children. The President is usually followed by the Secretary of State, members of Congress, New York City’s mayor and Governor, and the entire media organization. When Israeli’s kill Palestinians it’s usually, if ever, left up to the State Department spokesperson to issue a “we regret” and “we call upon “both” sides to stop the violence and return to peace negotiations”. The only reason this occurs has more to do with fear of the media, the Jewish lobby that counts supportive words of Israel as it budgets campaign donations, and the political greed for votes, money, and good press in the upcoming elections. Thus simply, our politicians buy and sell human lives around the world for a “few dollars more.” and we Americans fall prey for this crap while proclaiming our Judeo-Christian religion, freedoms, American values and way of life (whatever the hell that means).

EXAMPLE: President Bush, in a strongly-worded statement, condemned the attack as ‘acts of murder’ and laid the blame squarely on Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who he said must act ‘swiftly and decisively’ to find those responsible. Bush said: ““I strongly condemn them as acts of murder that no person of conscience can tolerate and no cause can ever justify”. Apparently the murder of five Palestinian children from one family on their way to school where the Israeli army later admitted it planted mines and explosives is not an “act of murder”. Why? Wrong race, wrong faith, wrong media darlings, wrong campaign contributors. Bush’s “Compassion” is as he has said is geared to protecting only the lives of “Christians and Jews.”

Our media as usual ignores the death of these children, their torched bloody bodies, their grieving families, and their burial. They die faceless, humanless, worthless, with barely a mention in our media. However, while our media is fearful of doing such stories out of fear from the usual backlash, Ha’aretz, the major Israeli newspaper had an article by Gideon Levy titled: “On The Way To School” (Nov. 26) lamenting the death of these children and chastising Israel for the low nadir of its morality. Mr. Levy wrote:: “A state places explosive charges where children are likely to pass and then claims that only the other side practices terrorism? We have to admit that an act of this kind can be considered an act of terrorism, because it strikes at the innocent and doesn’t discriminate between the victims, even if the intention was not to kill children and even if the goal was the war on terrorism.”

Secretary Powell, Congressmen, and (Ret.) General Anthony Zinni, Powell’s envoy to the Middle East, joined in condemnation of Arafat. Zinni said he had spoken to the Palestinian leader and ‘made absolutely clear that those responsible for planning and carrying out these attacks must be found and brought to justice.

Yet for weeks Sharon has thumbed his nose at Bush, Powell, and the European Union prompting EU’s foreign policy chief Javier Solana to proclaim Sharon’s acts against peace and invasion, assassinations, and murder of Palestinian civilians as “a stupidity”. In the last three days alone Israel has killed 20 Palestinians, including 5 children walking to school killed by a deliberately planned explosive device by Israel, condemned by the world but not by our brave America.

Despite Powell’s feeble protestations against Israel’s assassinations of Palestinian leaders, Israel killed a leading Hamas leader by an Apache helicopter which prompted the revenge suicide bombing in Jerusalem. Mahmoud Abu Hanoud, the head of Hamas’s military wing, was killed along with his deputy, Ayman Hashaikah, and a third man when Israeli helicopters fired missiles at their van, near Nablus in the West Bank. In May this year, Israeli F-16 warplanes dropped one ton bombs on a Nablus police station, killing at least 10 Palestinians, in a failed bid to assassinate Hanoud.

Yet to America’s media elite, Israel and Sharon can do no wrong even while insulting and embarrassing the American President. Whether it’s Palestinians or Israeli’s who are dying in this conflict Israel can rest assured that the United States government and its media will constantly tow the Israeli line and lay the blame squarely on Arafat’s soldiers. Powell gave Sharon veto power to decide when to commence peace negotiations and to determine when it’s been “quiet” enough to satisfy Sharon. Bush refuses to meet Arafat, even embarrassing him at the U.N. by refusing to shake his hand, and the new MidEast envoy within a few hours of arriving is already blaming Palestinian militants for sabotaging his mission. No wonder Israel rejects any intervention or peace mediation from any other nation or organization except for it’s guaranteed superpower doormat–America. And of course it’s the Palestinians who don’t want peace with Israel, they don’t want to get rid of the brutal occupation of their lives and homes, they don’t want to get rid of the settlements, they don’t want an independent nation, and they don’t want to pray with freedom in Jerusalem instead of praying at the feet of Israeli soldiers outside the city. No, we are supposed to believe that Barak and Israel offered the Palestinians everything they wanted but they are so stupid and terrorist minded that they refuse such Israeli “generosity.” Instead they prefer living under the Israeli boot while occasionally killing “Christians and Jews”. The only Christians that have been killed in Palestine have been killed by Israel.

Now Bush and Powell after one year of neglect of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have reengaged by appointing a tough minded former Marine General Anthony Zinni . In response Sharon appoints a hard lined extremist General, Meir Dagan, and not the diplomat Shimon Peres. Meir Dagan, like Sharon, is a former commando. In the 1970s he headed a unit in Gaza that assassinated dozens of wanted Palestinians, forming the model for the death squad units of the Israeli army who have gunned down or blown up Palestinian militants during this uprising. General Dagan drove the first Israeli tank into Beirut during Sharon’s 1982 invasion and massacres of Beirut. Sharon is sending a clear message to Bush, Powell, the Palestinians and his political opposition in Israel that his hard-line positions are not negotiable. Such is the man who proclaims he wants “real peace”.

Sharon is returning to Israel after a brief meeting with Bush where he surely discussed his retaliatory step on the Palestinians and where Bush discussed his next phase of the war upon Iraq or any other Arab or Muslim group or nation for that matter. Bush knows he opened the Anti-Semitic Pandora’s box against Arabs and has set the expectations so high for the nation that he just can’t stop after Afghanistan. At least one more Arab or Muslim nation must be bombed, so why not Iraq given that the media pundits have conditioned Americans to expect that.

I’m sorry. I think I made an earlier mistake in limiting President Bush’s compassion to dead Judeo-Christians. Bush did personally express his deep sadness at the death of George Harrison, the former Beatle, who was into eastern religion and mysticism.

So the media soap opera of the superpower’s impotence at the hands of the little yiddish kosher state goes on. Israel had a long time ago castrated Uncle Sam’s “Cojones”.

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