As the Globe Spins: Middle East correspondent worse than none

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Foreign correspondents add considerable credibility and flavour to a newspaper. First-hand accounts of people and politicians provide the context and analysis that the homogeneous mass of wire service copy does not usually provide.

In the case of the Globe and Mail‘s Mark MacKinnon, we have an example of a correspondent who does precisely the opposite. To all intents and purposes he files the same kind of pro-Israel propaganda as the Associated Press. All around him, major news stories are breaking and Israeli atrocities are being committed, but little if any of it manages to get into print.

Is MacKinnon oblivious to his surroundings? Does he not venture out of his hotel room? Of course not. Whether it’s him or someone else, foreign reporters in the zionist entity are not free to report what they see. They must either reflect a pro-Israeli point of view or face eviction.

CNN learned this lesson the hard way. After it aired stories that highlighted the suffering of the Palestinians, it was given an edict–”report the Israeli line or get out. Thus, on Sept. 3, 2001, it began referring to Gilo not as an illegal settlement on occupied Arab land around Jerusalem–”which it is–”but as a “Jewish neighbourhood.”

Plain speaking also caused Peter Hansen to be harassed by the zionist overlords. The head of the UN Relief and Works Agency openly condemned home demolitions, indiscriminate fire by Israeli forces, and policies that created economic collapse and widespread hunger among about 1 million refugees in Gaza. Ultimately he was forced out because a few Hamas members worked for UNRWA.

In early April, the Israeli foreign ministry issued a guidebook to its foreign diplomats asking them to compile lists of “hostile elements” in the media, to rank them according to importance and public exposure, and estimate the damage they cause to Israel’s image. Significantly, the guidebook warned against taking Jewish journalists for granted: “Usually they will agree to meet with you, but they will not say ‘amen’ to everything you say.”*

In sum, those reporters who report the news without fear or favour suffer harassment or risk expulsion; those who make the Faustian bargain end up covering up for a war criminal state. MacKinnon shouldn’t be blamed for all this–”the fault lies with his editors for putting him in a preposterous position.

To get an idea of how useless and ingratiating the Jerusalem bureau has become, here is the May 17 front page piece, entitled “Ceasefire pushes Israel over tourist hump.”

It began: “These are hard times for Kojak the camel. A year ago, he had it easy. The Palestinian uprising was in full swing and tourists were scarce, preferring to spend their vacation dollars somewhere a lot less edgy…. Suddenly, there are…tourists aplenty in Israel after four years of suicide bombings, and assassinations.”

Throughout this mawkish prattle, not one word is written about Palestine or the illegal Israeli occupation, which provokes the very suicide bombings and assassinations that keep tourists away.

This is not news–”it’s a puff piece meant for only one purpose. If it had to be run, it should have been in the travel section, not on the front. Fact is, it was. On May 7, the back of the travel section carried a wire service blurb about an upswing in Israeli tourism. MacKinnon’s piece didn’t have to run at all.

Similarly, there was little or no point to the piece, entitled: “Putin, Sharon to address anti-Semitism.” The cult of Jewish victimhood is trotted out to manufacture sympathy for Israel (an oppressor state) and demonize those who criticize it.

“Anti-Semitism” is a nonsense term since Arabs are semites, but Jews have no trouble mistreating them. Time was, Jews were the victims of religious persecution; today, religion is irrelevant. An “anti-Semite” no longer refers to someone who hates Jews; it refers to someone a Jew hates.

At no time does MacKinnon try to give a competent definition of “anti-Semitism” or distinguish it from anti-zionism.

Finally, the June 3 piece about the killing of Lebanese journalist Samir Qaseer offered nothing that a superficial anti-Syrian U.S. news source couldn’t have provided. Of course, the Globe makes no mention of the deliberate murder of journalists by Israel and the U.S.

Because Israel is hostile to the free press, at least the free foreign press, the Globe should pull its entire contingent out of the Middle East and run wire copy from Israel’s media.

Israel’s media? Rely on an oppressor to report on itself? Isn’t that self-defeating?

In this case, no. The English translation of the daily newspaper Ha’aretz (www.haaretz.com) has some of the best reporting found anywhere.

Here are some news items the Globe‘s correspondent did not file or follow up.

1) Ha’aretz editorial June 6, 2005: “IDF commits murder with impunity”
“On the night between Feb. 19 and 20, 2002, Israel Defense Forces soldiers, acting under explicit orders, carried out untargeted killings in which 15 Palestinian policemen were shot to death at three checkpoints….IDF soldiers are liable to draw from this is that everything is permissible.”

2) “Channel 10: IDF soldiers use Palestinian as human-shield in West Bank.”
“The TV report showed how soldiers led the blindfolded youth out onto a second-floor balcony as a soldier aimed a rifle with a tear gas grenade from behind the teenager and other teens threw rocks at the building from across the street.” (May 23)

Then there are stories from other sources, such as the poisoning of Palestinian fields and increased “settler” pogroms against Palestinian farmers. The first poison was discovered on March 22 in the Hebron village of Tuwani. The Center for Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences at Bir Zeit University and the Israeli Nature Protection Authority confirmed the widespread use of livestock-killing toxic chemicals.– 

All of this MacKinnon could discover without much effort, but his editors doubtless wouldn’t allow them to be published. Instead, we read how a buxom comic book superhero is rattling Mideast mores. (June 4). Real useful.

Notes:

* Doron Sheffer, “Foreign Ministry ‘marks’ hostile reporters,” ynetnews.com, April 6, 2005.

–  “Israeli Settlers’ Use of Toxins in the West Bank,” News Source #106, April 25, 2005.

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