Sixty Minutes Becomes Israeli-Occupied Television

By Ira Glunts, NY, US

As Philip Giraldi points out in his article "America’s Israeli-Occupied Media,"(1) the Israeli government is continuing its campaign to get the U.S. military to attack Iran or at least give a “green light” for a massive Israeli bombing strike.  In pursuit of this reckless and ill-conceived plan Tel Aviv has a willing co-conspirator in the mainstream American media, who will present the Israeli world-view without criticism or qualification.
 
The recent CBS broadcast (2) of the Sixty Minutes segment "The Israeli Air Force" (3) provides a rather startling example of how the American news media will permit the Israelis to present their point of view to the exclusion of any competing narrative. The report, which is presented by correspondent Bob Simon, first aired on April 27 and was rebroadcast on August 10.

The message of "The Israeli Air Force" is clearly and succinctly communicated by the CBS report as: Iran is a threat to Israel’s existence and to the rest of the world; Iran will obtain a nuclear weapon soon; when it does it will use it to destroy Israel. Thus it is apparent that if Iran does not quickly agree with the demands of Western powers to cease its uranium enrichment program, the Israeli Air Force can and will attack and incapacitate the Iranian nuclear facilities.

In order to produce this segment, CBS, by its own admission, accepted the "rigorous censorship" requirements of the Israeli Air Force (IAF). For a news organization to agree to censorship when covering a story is rather unusual. The explanation Mr. Simon gives for this arrangement is to quote the IAF’s dubious justification that "[i]f the Israelis blow their secrets, they insist, they’ll lose the next war."  Maybe Simon should have just confessed that because CBS believes that these Israeli pilots are such amazing men, Sixty Minutes let them tell their own story, in their own way, without network interference.

In "The Israeli Air Force" Simon interviews Israeli pilots who are the "best and brightest." We are told they are destined to become heroes and some even legends. The report recounts the great IAF victory in the 1967 War and the difficult but "necessary" military air strikes in Gaza. No mention is made of the two disastrous air campaigns in two Lebanese wars. We also hear interviews with the pilots who bombed and destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak in 1981. 

Yiftach Spector, who participated in the Iraq bombing, humbly rejects Simon’s compliment that he returned from the mission as a hero. Spector claimed "[w]e postponed a threat, a real threat. … I mean, the heroes were not us.  The "decision makers were the heroes on this because they showed the world what’s right and what’s wrong,"  Simon then comments, "[t]oday, Israel’s decision makers are faced with a similar choice, will they take out Iran’s nuclear facilities?"  You really wonder if this little play was written by someone at CBS or rather was actually composed by an Israeli government  press assistant or an official of the IAF censorship board.

In Bill Moyer’s documentary about the news coverage leading up to the invasion of Iraq, "Buying the War," Bob Simon correctly criticizes the media for only reporting the Bush/Cheney administration’s propaganda while ignoring all contradictory evidence.  Well ironically, when it comes to Iran, it appears that Simon’s reporting ignores all contradictory evidence while solely presenting the Israeli government line.

The 2007 U.S National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) which states that there is a high probability that Iran has discontinued its nuclear weapons program in 2003, was never mentioned.  Neither were the findings of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which have contradicted Israeli claims.

Additionally, the segment never addressed the fact that Israel views Iran as its main competitor in the region and as a financer and supporter of its enemies Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas. This may have as much to do with the Israeli bellicosity toward Iran as any fear of nuclear weapons.

Finally, numerous high ranking officials in the American government including Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Michael Mullen, are currently on the record as saying that any attack on Iran at the present time, whether it be American or Israeli, would be extremely harmful to U.S interests.   Some of the likely consequences of an attack would be: a further endangering of U.S. soldiers in Iraq, a skyrocketing price of oil, and a wider U.S. war in the region.  Bob Simon did not mention the opinions opposing an attack on Iran or any of these very relevant possibly disastrous consequences.

Any news program which deserves special citation for being produced from an Israeli perspective should follow these rules:  never mention the word "occupation", nor the conditions that Palestinians are forced to endure when speaking about the West Bank and Gaza;  if you address the issue of casualties suffered by innocent Palestinians as a result of Israeli military offenses, always give the Israelis time to appear “aware and troubled” and to claim they do everything possible to minimize collateral damage;  never mention anything negative or embarrassing about the Israeli armed forces which cannot be dismissed as an unfortunate mistake. Finally, and this is key, always express that the targeted enemy is "Hitler" and that the military action under consideration will prevent another Holocaust. I can attest that Bob Simon’s report more than adequately meets all these requirements.

The Sixty Minutes segment is not a news report, but a paean to "The Israeli Air Force" which also explains, justifies and advocates the use of military force against Tehran.  It sells the idea of bombing Iran to the American people, just as the mainstream media sold the Iraq War, without reporting the complete story.  It is frightening that CBS could produce a program which ignores any evidence which does not promote Tel Aviv’s world-view.  What is even more terrifying is that even if the United States decides against the military option and advises Israel to do likewise, the same power and influence which enables "Israeli occupied news coverage," can make it possible for Israel to ignore American wishes and proceed with their plan to bomb Iran.

-Ira Glunts first visited the Middle East in 1972, where he taught English and physical education in a small rural community in Israel. He was a volunteer in the Israeli Defense Forces in 1992. He lives in Madison, New York where he writes, works as a college librarian and operates a used and rare book business with his wife. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

Notes:

1.  Giraldi, Philip, "America’s Israeli Occupied Media," Antiwar.com, August 12, 2008.

2.  "The Israeli Air Force," Sixty Minutes, video originally broadcast on April 27, 2008, rebroadcast on August 10, 2008, available at the CBS news web site, cbsnews.com.

3.  "The Israeli Air Force," Sixty Minutes, text version, titled "Israel’s Air Force Chief, Iran Real Threat….", available at the CBS news website, cbsnews.com.

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