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Monday, July 19, 2004

Midnight Musings

Media nonplussed over "Palestine"

I always want to use that word, but am never quite sure what it means.  As it turns out, my feelings about it are, in effect, the very definition of the word.

nonplussed - adj: filled with bewilderment
nonplus - n: A state of perplexity, confusion, or bewilderment.

Now back to the Media and their fair-haired child.  If you scan the news as much as I do, you get a  kind of feel for it.  Since I couldn't sleep, I got up to see how they're coping with the chaos, anarchy, shootings and arson, in Gaza.  I found two things, both of which are to be expected. 
First, they're used to a tit-for-tat scenario, where they can bury the behavior of the Palestinians in some sort of an Israel-is-bad story, but all's quiet in Israel, so this becomes a challenge.  They're trying with the "Sharon urges French Jews to move to Israel" story, but I think it's a non-starter. 
You can generally tell the politics by the headline. CNN/Reuters tries really hard to make a major issue: "France angered over Sharon's call."  Australia and the UK are more mild:  "France protests Sharon emigration call to Jews" and "Sharon 'urges' Jews to leave France," respectively.
In contrast, the EU tries to blow it up, so to speak. Expatica, the Netherlands, says "Paris Slams Sharon" and SwissInfo picks up on the emotion: "Anger after Sharon urges Jews to quit France." 
AFP says, "France denounces Sharon's Call..."  You just know they want so badly to say "France denounces Sharon. period."  but the story doesn't warrant it.

France denounced as "unacceptable'' a call by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for French Jews to emigrate because of increasing anti-Semitism, Agence France- Presse reported, citing the government.
The International Herald Tribune  goes so far as to create a headline with the familiar double-edged sword: "Arafat and Sharon off blance."

JERUSALEM - With the Palestinian government in disarray, Israeli party leaders tried Sunday to prevent disarray within their own government. . ."
Sweet, but no cigar.  For the most part, the press has to cover events in Gaza without any cooperation from Israel in playing the villain. What can they do but downplay the violence?  With the Palestinians shooting each other and burning down their own "governmental" offices, it's not so easy to keep them in their warm and fuzzy victimhood box.  Just watch them try:

  • According to Reuters, "Gaza Gunmen Issue New Challenge..." Now that's a positive spin if I ever heard one. 
  • "Arafat's choice causes unrest," according to the Dallas Morning News
  • Likewise, NPR: "Unrest in Gaza . . ."
  • The BBC maintains the passive voice on behalf of our victims: "Palestinians gripped by turmoil."  It's nothing they actually did, you understand.
  • The Atlanta Journal Constitution holds that "Palestinians Protest Arafat Appointment"
  • The Scotsman's headline, "Palestinians voice fury over Arafat 'nepotism' " hardly matches their text, according to which,  there's a small war on:

    Palestinian gunmen stormed an intelligence office in a Gaza refugee camp and marched through another, protesting that Yasser Arafat’s appointment of a relative as the new security chief meant more corruption and cronyism. 

    In the Rafah refugee camp last night, gunmen exchanged fire with guards at security headquarters and attempted to break into the complex with a bulldozer. The guards wounded three attackers, but there were no casualties among the security forces, staff at the building said.

  • The Boston Globe, too, avoids events and focuses on emotion: "Palestinians rage against their leaders."

    JERUSALEM -- Palestinian demonstrators burned government offices and traded gunfire with security officers in the Gaza Strip yesterday on the third day of demonstrations against what the protesters see as corruption and cronyism in Yasser Arafat's administration.

    The violence, which appeared to reflect the breakdown of law and order and a power struggle . . . ahead of an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, spread from Gaza City south to Khan Yunis and Rafah, two of the Strip's poorest districts." 

    After the obligatory sentence and a half of facts, they get to real substance:   it has something to do with Israel after all {audible sigh of relief} and naturally,  whatever the Palestinians do, it's because they're poor and oppressed.  Whew.
The Australians are right on:  "Office of Palestinian security chief torched,"
the Chinese  are somewhat straightforward: "18 Fatah militants wounded during Rafah riots," 
and the Japanese  are more so:  "Militants sack, burn Palestinian offices."
Can you imagine what the press would do with this story if the shoe were on a Jewish foot? If Israelis were shooting each other in the streets and burning down the Knesset building?   They sure wouldn't speak of it in a passive voice, nor would they write it off as some sort of emotional catharsis or mere political "unrest."   
Please note that posts after midnight may not include the appropriate links and may even end abruptly, should the blogger decide to go back to bed.