While the diplomatic fallout from the botched raid on the Gaza-bound flotilla this week will not be known for some time, the mainstream media already has suffered a serious blow to its credibility. As the mainstream media told the story, a freedom-loving band of peace activists were stormed by armed Israeli commandos, resulting in the deaths of at least nine passengers.
What this narrative ignores, however, is the nature of the organizers and the mission itself. The people behind the so-called “Freedom Flotilla” have a long history with terrorists, including al Qaeda. One of the primary sponsors, the Turkish IHH, were identified by the CIA as far back as 1996 as a terrorist-tied entity with links to Iran, and French magistrate Jean-Louis Brougiere testified that IHH played an “important role” in the failed “millennium plot” in the U.S. in late 1999.
Also missing from the mainstream media coverage was that supplies from the flotilla could have been transported from an Israeli port by truck, after inspection, but that offer was flatly rejected. The reasoning was transparent, considering that flotilla spokeswoman Greta Berlin announced last week to the Agence France Press, “This mission is not about delivering humanitarian supplies, it’s about breaking Israel’s siege.”
Most tellingly, flotilla passengers were seen on Al-Jazeera last week chanting, “Khyber, Khyber,” a favorite chant of jihadists because it recalls a battle where Mohammed’s army is said to have killed large numbers of Jews.
Had the mainstream media been truly brave, outlets could have given full context, namely that the blockade of Gaza targets the Hamas government and is a joint enterprise of both Israel and Egypt.
There is no “humanitarian crisis,” as claimed by the flotilla’s propaganda, given that approximately 100 aid trucks enter Gaza every day. “Throughout the last few months,” according to the Israel Defense Forces website, “More than 1,200 tons of medicine and medical equipment, 155 tons of food, 2,900 tons of shoes and clothing and 17 million liters of diesel fuel were transferred in to the Gaza Strip.”
The “crisis” that is brewing in Gaza is Hamas’ failing political status. Worsening economic conditions—a direct result of the Israeli-Egyptian blockade—have seriously undermined Hamas’ standing. Media reports out of Gaza in recent months indicate that Hamas can’t meet its government payroll, and ordinary Gazans are on edge.
But not surprisingly, few of these facts found their way into the mainstream media’s coverage.
In a report that could well have been written by the flotilla organizers themselves, the Associated Press wrote of the “violent takeover” and “bloody predawn confrontation” that was “yet another blow to Israel’s international image, already tarnished by war crimes accusations in Gaza and its 3-year-old blockade of the impoverished Palestinian territory.”
Not until the fifth paragraph does the AP even mention that the “impoverished Palestinian territory” is controlled by the “militant Hamas group.”
At least the AP acknowledged that the blockade is not a solo Israeli effort, but rather something the Jewish state has done in conjunction with its Arab neighbor Egypt. The Washington Post yesterday referred to various governments who have “demanded that Israel end its Gaza blockade.” Even though Egypt was mentioned in the story, the Post reporter neglected to note that the Arab state had been a full partner in targeting Hamas with the blockade.
Not to be outdone by others in the mainstream media, though, the New York Times spent considerable time on its website comparing the terrorist-tied angry mob that ambushed and attacked Israeli soldiers to the Holocaust survivors on the Exodus 1947 ship, who were seeking refuge in the Holy Land.
As biased as the media coverage has been, however, it is clear that Israel contributed to the advancement of the flotilla organizers’ propaganda.
No other nation wears a target on its back the way the Jewish state does. Israeli officials know their every action will be scrutinized and dissected under the media microscope, which makes their failure to plan for angry mobs greeting their soldiers as they boarded the boat simply mystifying. Even most Israelis believe that the situation should have been handled differently.
Israel’s inability to deal effectively with a double standard, however, does not excuse the existence of that double standard.
Much like the narrative of Israel’s “peace-loving” enemies, the story of the mainstream media’s downfall is pretty straightforward. As the news titans have continued to disregard the truth, the general public has likewise decided to disregard them.
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.
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