On Sabre-Rattling

“The blast hit just hours after Iran’s state-run media reported comments from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad calling for Israel to be “wiped off the map”“

With this brazen nonchalance, and with a sinister uniformity (from Reuters to NBC to our very own BBC), the connection was made between two unrelated events. Assigning a new interpretation to the latest in a string of suicide bombings; and assigning a new interpretation to the rantings of a harmless, unrepresentative populist desperate for domestic credibility.

We have already seen the dangers of repeating lies until they attain the status of truth. We have watched – and continue to watch – Baghdad burning daily on our television screens. If this latest piece of reporting was an honest attempt, on the part of the journalists involved, to put the matters into context, then they have failed quite terribly. Let us instead consider some more significant chronological milestones, with more credible claims to relevance.

Thursday’s terrorist attack in Israel came fifty-six years after Israel took seventy-eight percent of Palestine, and twenty-eight years after Israel took the remaining twenty-two percent, imposing a brutal and unfair apartheid upon the Palestinian population. It came just nine days after the Israeli army sealed off Palestinian towns in the West Bank and banned private vehicles from intercity roads. The attack came as the Israeli military quietly makes fresh incursions into Palestinian territory at the Northern edge of Jerusalem, unilaterally re-drawing the map and taking more land than they so magnanimously “conceded” (returned) in the much-celebrated, tactically ingenious Gaza withdrawals.

It came perhaps hours after a pregnant Palestinian woman will yet again have been denied access to a hospital on spurious security grounds. It came as experts consider estimates of the number of Palestinian children killed by the Israeli army, since September 2000, sometimes as “collateral damage”, sometimes by bullets to the back of the head. The figure is believed to be somewhere between five-hundred and six-hundred. The terrorist attack will have come at the very same moment that a brave Israeli reservist sat in prison, criminalised and stigmatised because of his refusal to serve in the occupied territories.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s remarks came a mere fifty-two years after the CIA overthrew the progressive, peace-loving and secular Mohammed Mossadegh, imposing the dictatorship of the Shah and driving the country into the hands of Islamic fundamentalism. The history is there if the journalists care to read it – but their expertise, it would seem, does not lie in critical thought but rather in the manipulation of information. In the present climate they are wilfully, and without coercion, acting as agents of government policy, fermenting an atmosphere of fear and confrontation in an all-too-familiar manner. Duly anaesthetised, the Western world may now be about to sleepwalk into another disaster, for which this core of journalists that make up the mainstream media will have to bear considerable responsibility. It seems as though their intellectual incompetence, their chronic moral cowardice, will be our eternal loss.

[i] This article first appeared in the Morning Star, 2nd November[/i]

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