WHY GAZA IS BURNING AND ISRAEL IS NOT?

By Uli Schmetzer

           The war in Gaza has turned into a propaganda charade.
           If you listen to military and government spokespersons ‘thousands’ of Hamas rockets
are raining on hapless Israelis and so Israel’s brutal bombardment of Gaza  (that has now killed
more then one thousand Palestinians) is no more then justified reaction to the Hamas rockets (which
have killed five Israelis.)
              If you listened to U.S. secretary of State Condoleeza Rice after the Palestinian death toll had
climbed to three hundred you would have heard this baffling comment: “We are extremely worried
about this escalation of violence. We firmly condemn the attacks AGAINST ISRAEL and hold Hamas
responsible…..�
            And if you were tuned in to the BBC one day in early January you might have seen the British
network’s correspondent flat on the ground behind his office car while a siren sounded in the
background and the correspondent described that Hamas rockets were falling and every motorists,
just like him, was now on the ground taking cover.
              Amazingly for anyone in the media business the BBC camera stayed solidly on the
correspondent, Vic Robertson, showing now other motorists on the ground. The same intrepid
correspondent then raised one arm and whispered (perhaps afraid to attract more rockets) that over
there – pointing south - a rocket had exploded – and over there another one, pointing west. Again
the camera remained steadfast on the correspondent. No plumes of smoke. No bangs. The
correspondent then told how hospitals were preparing for an emergency. This time the camera did go
into the emergency ward of a hospital and showed a doctor and two nurses watching television with no
sign of any emergency preparations.
             â€œPerhaps the victims have not yet arrived,â€� the correspondent offered as his
anchorwoman back in the studio somberly thanked him for his ‘courageous report from the war
zone.� At that moment anyone could have been justified in assuming that the BBC had been taken
over by the Israeli Ministry of Propaganda.
             The Israel Is Right machine is churning out justifications and blatant exaggerations day and
night, doing its utmost to portray the brutal and prolonged attack on Gaza as ‘self defense’
failing to mention Israel has blockaded Gaza for years, cut off supplies, practiced collective
punishment, demolished thousands of homes, citrus fruit and olive groves. Hardly a week goes by
when the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) have not executed what they call ‘targeted killings’
(which in reality are officially sanctioned assassinations) of ‘senior’ members of Hamas, a
political organization democratically elected by popular vote.
               Hamas is a radical and religious product of the Palestinian conflict but its bearded officials
are hardly worse then most of the fanatical and often equally bearded Jewish settlers and religious
fundamentalists Israel encouraged to colonize the West Bank. And if Hamas resorted to suicide and
home-made missile attacks for being targeted and having its leaders assassinated one should not be
surprised.
                What is puzzling –and suspect - is the failure of our mainstream media to point out the
enormous difference between the home-made Palestinian Qassam rockets described by military
experts as ‘pin-pricks’ or ‘catapults’ compared to F16s and Apache attack helicopters
pummeling the people of Gaza with the world’s most modern missile systems and smart bombs.
             (The Qassam rocket is a simple steel tube its warhead filled with smuggled or scavenged
TNT and urea nitrate, a common fertilizer. The Qassam is propelled by sugar and potassium nitrate,
another fertilizer easily available. The early Qassam I had a reach of three kms, the latest version, the
Qassam III has a 10 kms reach. The Israelis say Hamas now has a ‘Grad’ rocket which can fly
even further.)
             Our sidelined media, watching the conflict helplessly from hills overlooking Gaza, allows
Israeli officials to make the most outrageously partisan claims without rebuttal and accepts, without
comment, the same one-sided comments by the American administration.
             The few media agencies, like Reuters and AP, who have an office in Gaza telephoned the
Israelis to give them their coordinates so they would not be bombed. In the case of Reuters two
minutes after the agency telephoned in their coordinates an Israeli shell burst into their building.
            The reality is while Gaza burns Israelis are going about their business normally except in two
cities close to the Gaza border. Not surprisingly, since war is supposed to be good for business, the
Tel Aviv stock exchange jumped 10.7 per cent on the day the Israelis launched their attack.
             And when the Jerusalem Post bitterly attacks El Jazeera television and Indymedia for
presenting the horror of Gaza in video and witness reports the paper forgets that Israel has banned
reporters from going into the Gaza. This ban however should be no excuse why the mainstream media
can not offer a more balanced report and contradict the blatant propaganda Israeli officials toss so
arrogantly at the mass media outlets.
            But then no one appears to have the courage to chastise the Jewish State or threaten it with
international sanctions usually suffered by any other country embarked on a similar bellicose
adventure. Israeli actions seem to be untouchable, whether they devastate southern Lebanon or the
Gaza. The remarkably active Israeli lobby around the world makes sure these actions are portrayed
as no more then self-defense while Israeli diplomats and officials plead so ridiculously in front of
television cameras: “We had no choice.�
            Israel always had a choice.
ends