By Tammy Obeidallah
Western media has eroded into little more than sound bytes of celebrity gossip or inane stories about how cutting calories can help people live longer. When there is no way to get around reporting "hard news" so-called journalists build careers by regurgitating whatever they are spoon-fed by administration officials in scripted interviews.
All cannot be attributed to sheer incompetence. Often facts are omitted or so distorted that newscasts take on the sinister feel of state-run media, serving merely as a government mouthpiece to promote a particular agenda. The majority of the time, this is accomplished in one of three ways: 1) shoddy coverage of the dual U.S. occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan in which soldier and civilian casualties are grossly under-reported; 2) portraying Muslims and Arabs as aggressive terrorists (conversely, events in which Muslims and/or Arabs are victimized go unreported); and 3) blatant pro-Israel bias.
The murder of Marwa Sherbini, an Egyptian woman stabbed 18 times in a German courtroom while police stood idle–although they shot her husband “accidentally” when he tried in vain to thwart the brutal attack–should have caused international outrage. However, much of the world was not aware of the tragedy. A comment posted to Al-Jazeera’s website correctly pointed out that it would have been a much different reaction if the situation had been reversed: imagine if a Jew or a Christian was murdered in an Egyptian courtroom.
On a broader scale, the media has depicted the hell that was once Gaza as resulting from “Israel’s right to self-defense.” Furthermore, the detrimental effect that the U.S. alliance with the Jewish State has had on our own citizens is kept a closely guarded secret.
On July 4, while every network was still engaged in 24/7 coverage of Michael Jackson’s death, there was a crippling cyber attack on U.S. government websites, including the Department of Treasury, the Secret Service, Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Transportation. The same day, South Korea suffered a similar attack on the websites of the Presidential Blue House, Defense Ministry and banking institutions. It was not reported until four days later.
Both the U.S. and South Korea came to the logical—if not overly simple—conclusion that the perpetrator was North Korea. Less-than-mediocre journalists were quick to circulate the story over the airwaves and the Internet. If they had done their jobs, they might have looked at other events reported the same day and connected a few dots. But that would have taken some actual investigative work, something foreign to today’s media.
The same day that news broke of North Korea’s alleged attack, Reuters reported that Israel has been preparing a cyber war against Iran. A spokesperson from Technologies Institute, a U.S. consultancy, stated that Israel is the sixth biggest cyber warfare threat, after China, Russia, Iran, France and “terrorist/extremist” groups. Oddly enough, North Korea, who was behind this “unusually lengthy and sophisticated attack,” according to the Associated Press, did not make the list.
Israeli officials admitted to successful tests of cyber attacks on an internal pipeline, and that furthermore, the same methods could be used to attack sites of uranium enrichment facilities in Iran. It only makes sense that Israel would have wanted to test their tactics before proceeding, and what better way to divert suspicion than attacking South Korea as well?
It wouldn’t be the first time Israel attacked their largest supporter. The USS Liberty was destroyed by Israeli bombers in 1967. Thirty-four American sailors died and an additional 172 were injured. Naval personnel listening to radio relays heard President Lyndon B. Johnson say “I don’t care if the ship sinks, I’m not going to embarrass an ally.”
The unanswered questions surrounding the 9/11 attacks have always pointed to an Israeli factor, despite government secrecy and media complicity. In the weeks prior to September 11, 140 Israelis were detained as part of a suspected espionage ring. Nearly all had served in the Israeli army with specialties in either explosives or intelligence, although Carl Cameron of Fox News quoted a senior investigator as stating "Evidence linking these Israelis to 9/11 is classified."
Those cases were separate from the arrests of five Israelis who were caught filming the World Trade Center attack, laughing, giving each other high-fives and dancing as it happened. This story was verified by the Washington Post, The Palm Beach Post and ABC News. Shortly after, they returned to Israel, where four of the five filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the United States for false arrest.
The media was conspicuously absent when Rachel Corrie, an American citizen, was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza while trying to prevent a home demolition. She should have been a household name; yet her death was ruled “accidental” and was never investigated by Congress despite persistent pressure from Ms. Corrie’s parents and numerous fellow activists.
Citizens must hold news organizations accountable through letters, phone calls, education and other grass roots means. If not, we may as well live with the lies that punctuate most mainstream media reporting and surrender our First Amendment right to a free press.
– This article was contributed to PalestineChronicle.com.