Bulletin #10

From: Francis Feeley <Francis.Feeley@u-grenoble3.fr>
Subject: Edward Herman: Part 3 of 3.

7 April 2002
Grenoble, France

Message from the Center for the Advanced Study of American Institutions and
Social Movements
Université de Grenoble-3

F. Feeley, directeur de recherches

by Edward S. Herman

    The U.S. mainstream media have followed closely their
government's agenda of giving Israel carte blanche in dealing with
their Palestinian subjects, both within Israel and in the occupied
territories. This has involved a major intellectual and moral
challenge, given the facts of serious racist discrimination, the
long Israeli refusal to exit the occupied territories as demanded
by an overwhelming international consensus, Israel's daily
violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention requirements on
treatment of people in occupied territories--including a massive
ethnic cleansing openly designed to benefit the "chosen people"--
and their clear intention to create a Palestinian system of
dependent and poor bantustans in the occupied territories,
organized strictly for the advantage of the ethnic cleansing state.
   This brutal, racist and illegal ethnic cleansing program has
taken place in an era when the United States and its allies have
proclaimed a new moral order in which defenseless people will be
protected by the Great Powers, as allegedly happened in Kosovo. The
challenge of rationalizing the Israeli ethnic cleansing in this
ideological context has been severe, but it has been met by the
U.S. media with remarkable success. Identifying completely with the
Israelis, the media have transformed them into the primary victims
and treated the populace really victimized as "unpeople" whose pain
does not count and who do not require "security" like the
victimizers. And by a comprehensive system of biased word usage,
framing, eye aversion, and rewriting of history, they have
demonstrated once again that in its service to the state the Free
Press can teach a lesson to any state-run propaganda system.
   The bias on the Israel-Palestinian conflict is sometimes
illustrated dramatically in events such as long-time Executive
Editor of the New York Times, A. M. Rosenthal's, receipt of an
award in 1991 as "Defender of Jerusalem" for his "passionate voice
on Jewish and Israeli affairs," or his refusal to allow an
unpleasant fact about Rabbi Meier Kahane to be published because it
"would generate anti-semitism;" or CBS news anchor Dan Rather's
enthusiastic participation--contrary to CBS rules--in a 1992
Jerusalem Foundation fund-raiser chaired by pro-Israel hawks Martin
Peretz amd Morton Zuckerman. But the bias is on continual display
in actual media performance.
    Let us review briefly, with some recent illustrations, some of
the modalities by which Israel's more than half-century long,
massive ethnic cleansing has been made palatable.

1. Language: Ethnic Cleansing, Violence, Terrorism, Clashes
    The phrase "ethnic cleansing" is far more applicable to Israeli
actions than to those of the Serbs in Kosovo. The brutal Serb
mistreatment of Kosovo Albanians was a feature of an ongoing civil
war, and the killings and large scale expulsions during the Nato
bombing were war-related actions; they were not part of a long-term
project to "redeem the land" from non-Serbs. Albanians in Belgrade
have not been limited in property ownership as Arabs are in Israel
and the occupied territories, and Kosovo Albanian homes were not
demolished for the purpose of providing space for Serbs. Despite
this reality, in the three year period 1998 through 2000, the New
York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Time and Newsweek
used the phrase "ethnic cleansing" some 1,200 times in discussing
Kosovo, in about four-fifths of the cases in reference to Serb
policy, whereas during the entire decade of the 1990s they used the
phrase only 14 times in discussing Israel, and only five times
referring to Israeli policy. This reflects massive internalized
    In media reporting on Intifada II, "violence" means stone
throwing and shooting, it never refers to the "structural violence"
of expropriating land, evicting people from their houses and
demolishing them, seizing and diverting their water resources for
the use of the chosen people, building roads that destroy
communities' access to former neighbors and jobs, closing down
access directly by army orders and barricades, and tolerating and
protecting settlers' attacks, destruction, and seizure of Gentile
property. Even though there have been a substantial number of
killings and injuries inflicted on the Gentiles by army and
settlers in this process, this massive low-intensity violence has
been entirely acceptable to the Clinton, Bush II, and predecessor
administrations, so for the mainstream media it is not classified
as violence or given serious attention (as discussed further
   But even within their limited conception of violence, the media's
bias displayed during Intifada II has been spectacular in giving
far greater attention and exclusive indignation to stone-throwing
and suicide bombings by Palestinians, than to the more cruel and
deadly violence of the Israeli army. The better than six to one
ratio of killings and far higher ratio of Palestinian injuries to
those of Israelis is neutralized by greater attention to--and much
greater humanization of--Israeli victims. In a simple and rough
measure of this bias, of eight front page photos of Intifada
victims in the New York Times from September 28, 2000 through
March 9, 2001, six were of Israelis and two were of Palestinians.
This, along with massive suppressions detailed later, helps sustain
the identification of "violence" with the stone throwing and suicide
bombing of the population in revolt.
   Similarly, the media have continued their long tradition of
finding the Palestinians terrorists, the Israelis victims--even
"under siege"--and engaging in retaliation only. Almost without
exception the media make deadly Palestinian actions terrorism, and
with indignant language attached--the killing of two Israeli
soldiers was a "sickening lynch-murder," a Palestinian attack on a
settlers' bus was "unspeakable" and a "terrorist outrage" in the
New York Times--but none of the 400 Palestinian deaths were worthy
of such adjectives. Thus, regarding a massive Israeli bombardment
of a civilian area in Gaza, this was "predictably...a strong
Israeli response" to a previous bombing of a settlers' bus. Only
the Israelis respond and retaliate, and do this "predictably"
(meaning responsively and reasonably). "Yesterday's Palestinian
terrorism and Israeli retaliation..."(ed., NYT, Nov. 21, 2000) is
the formulaic language of deep bias.  Norman Solomon reports that
Nexis search of U.S. media for the first 100 days of 2001 found
several dozen references to Israeli "retaliation," but only one
instance where Palestinian actions were deemed retaliatory.
    By the same rule of bias Ariel Sharon, whose record of
responsibility for killing unarmed civilians exceeds that of Carlos
the Jackal by a factor of 20 or more, is never a "terrorist" or
"war criminal" in the mainstream media, although occasionally it is
said that "they" (Arabs) so designate him. Rather, he has a "new
air of electability" (Phila. Inquirer, Jan. 7, 2001) or is "tough"
and a "warrior" as the New York Times describes him on their front
page of February 7, 2001, or an "old soldier" on the next day
(earlier, and shortly after the Sabra-Shatila massacre, "the
forceful general intent on security for Israel," NYT, Feb. 11,
    Robert Fisk says that when he reads of death in "a cross-fire"
or "clashes" he knows that this means the Israelis did the killing.
Fisk notes that even when CNN's Cairo bureau chief, Ben Wedeman,
was shot in the back in a gun battle in Gaza, almost certainly by
Israeli soldiers, CNN could not bring itself to suggest who was to
blame "at this time." And AP reported that Wedeman had been "caught
up in a crossfire" (Fisk, "Media: The Biased Reporting that Makes
Killing Acceptable," The Independent, Nov, 14, 2000).  Fisk also
notes how easily the media refer to a "suspected Palestinian
gunman" or "presumably by Palestinians" when Israelis are shot at,
whereas Palestinians always die "in clashes"--"as if they they were
accidentally shot rather than targets for Israeli snipers."
    On March 27, 2001, the New York Times featured on its front page
that "Palestinians Kill Baby Boy in West Bank," citing "Israeli
officials," with Ariel Sharon adding that this was a "deliberate,
cold-blooded escalation of violence." On March 11, however, the
paper showed on its front page a picture of a dead nine-year old
Palestinian boy, described as shot by "an errant Israeli bullet."
So by rule of bias the Israeli killing was "errant" rather than
deliberate, in contrast with the action of the Palestinians.  And
if Israelia snipers shoot numerous children, often in the eyes or
other vulnerable spot, the media--who never use the numerous photos
of Palestinian children with eye damage--are pleased to give
credence to Iraeli army suggestions that the soldiers are perhaps
just a bit trigger-happy (Joel Greenberg, "Israeli Military Worries
Some Troops May Be Trigger-Happy," NYT, Jan 17, 2001).
   The Israelis are not only "worried" about over-zealous soldiers,
they admit making "mistakes," and the media sometimes acknowledge
that their responses may be "excessive," "heavy-handed," or
"disproportionate" in retaliating to terrorism--but they are never
engaging in state terrorism and killing civilians, including
children, deliberately and "unspeakably." Their killings are never
"massacres," as Serb killings in Kosovo were often designated.
Palestinian violence is never a "predictable" response to Israeli
structural violence and direct state terror.

2. Critical Frames: Featuring the Violence of the Ethnic Cleansing State.
    Framing bias is closely linked to bias in language, and as I
have just shown, the U.S. mainstream media use words like terrorism
and violence to describe the retail acts of the Palestinians, not
the wholesale killings and coerced structural changes imposed by
the Israelis. They also refuse to use the words "ethnic cleansing"
to describe Israeli policy, despite the excellence of the fit. But
there are powerful frames that do put the locus of blame for
violence on the ethnic cleansing state and its sponsor. These
critical frames are spelled out by Israeli journalists like Amira
Hass and Danny Rubenstein, but they are as scarce as hens' teeth in
the U.S. mainstream press, although they flourish in the
alternative media.

2A. The injustice frame
    The primary alternative frame we may call the injustice model.
As I showed in Part 1, Amira Hass writing in Ha'aretz employs a
clear critical frame that explains Intifada II as an inevitable
response to the complete failure of Oslo to do anything whatever
for the Palestinians, and their further decline in welfare and
morale. Robert Fisk says the same: that the Intifada "is what
happens when a whole society is pressure-cooked to the point of
explosion" ("Lies, Hatred and the Language of Force, The
Independent, Oct. 13, 2000). Hass, Fisk,  Danny Rubenstein in
Ha'aretz, and other reporters and analysts have given similar
interpretations that stress the continued expropriations by
settlers and the army, the hugely racist and humiliating treatment
meted out to the Palestinians by their overlords, and the fact that
recent Israeli-US plans not only ratify the illegal post-Oslo
"facts on the ground," they provide for no meaningful resolution of
the refugee crisis, no credible East Jerusalem sovereignty, and no
viable and independent Palestinian state.
     In this critical frame, the Palestinian uprising is rooted in
extreme abuse and injustice, disappointed hopes, disillusionment
with both Oslo and the corrupt and pitiful Arafat leadership
serving as Israeli enforcers, and the final provocation of Sharon
and Barak at al-Aqsa. The explosion was widely expected,
"predictable," and understandable, and in these senses it was a
"rational" response to extreme abuse and the absence of peaceable

2B. The Israeli provocation model
    A secondary alternative frame, that actually supplements the
primary injustice model, starts with the fact that Intidada II was
clearly begun by Ariel Sharon's visit to the al-Aqsa mosque on
September 28, 2000. Even Thomas Friedman and the mainstream media
acknowledge that this was a "provocation," but by various tricks
they make the Palestinian response causally more important than the
    One trick has been to portray Barak as a man of peace who was
offering a reasonable settlement, and distancing him from the
provocation. Thus, Thomas Friedman says that "In short, the
Palestinians could not deal with Barak, so they had to turn him
into Sharon. And they did" ("Arafat's War," NYT, Oct. 13, 2000).
But Friedman suppresses relevant facts. First, Arafat, his chief
negotiator Saeb Erikat, and Palestinian official Faisal Husseini,
all pleaded with Barak not to allow the Sharon visit because of its
destabilizing potential, and Barak not only turned them down he
supported Sharon's provocation with 1000 border police. Second, on
the day after Sharon's visit, Barak's police were massively present
at al-Aqsa and fired to kill in the turmoil that ensued, leaving
seven dead and several hundred wounded. Third, following this
further provocation Barak did nothing to reduce the tensions, and
in fact offered a further show of force. But for Friedman and the
mainstream media, this series of provocations and failure of Barak
to do anything peaceable does not make him responsible; it was
Arafat who had to call off HIS people.
   By rule of deep bias, while the media have speculated freely on
Arafat's motives in possibly influencing the Palestinian response--
his "chancy gamble" as Time put it (Oct. 23, 2000)--they never even
raise the possibility that the Israeli leaders might have had
political aims leading THEM to provoke and that might explain THEIR
response. That the Sharon provocations, with Barak's cooperation,
might have been intended to induce violence and might be explained
by Israeli political dynamics is simply outside the apologetic
frames of reference. Eduardo Cohen argues that the Sharon-Barak
provocations flowed from their political calculations: Sharon
wanting to take center stage before Netanyahu's recovery from his
scandal--he was exonerated in a court case on alleged corruption on
September 27, 2000, the day before Sharon went to al-Aqsa--and
knowing that a tough stance and renewed war would serve his
political interests; Barak hoping to undercut Sharon and
precipitate a crisis and early election in which his chances would
also be better than if he waited for the political recovery of
Netanyahu (Cohen, "American Journalists Should Have Looked a Little
Deeper," undated). Whatever the merits of this line of argument,
the failure of the U.S. media even to discuss possible political
reasons for the provocations, and whether they might have been
intended to provoke the ensuing violence, reflects overwhelming

3. Apologetic Frames: Those That Blame any Violence on the Victims of Ethnic Cleansing.
    Almost without exception the U.S. mainstream media frame their
presentations of the issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict so
as to apologize for Israeli policy and put the blame for any
violence on Israel's victims.

3A. The injustice model--Barak's generous offer, Arafat's war, irrational Palestinian outburst.
     Essential ingredients of this dominant mainstream frame are the
assumptions that Barak was a "moderate" and that his offers and the
"peace process" have been reasonable, so that any disturbances or
uprisings are therefore irresponsible, unjustifiable, or
irrational. Trudy Rubin, the editorial foreign policy commentator
of the Philadelphia Inquirer, is not alone in finding that
"Irrationality drives violence in the region" (Oct. 18, 2000).
Absolutely essential to propagating this frame is the refusal to
discuss issues of justice and to evaluate those in detail--so you
will never find Friedman, or Rubin,  discussing the Israeli policy
of systematic expropriation of Palestinians in the occupied
territories, the demolitions, the appropriation of water for Jewish
use, the doubled settler population since 1993, the road
construction that makes a Palestinian state unviable, or the policy
of killing and injuring Gentiles freely, but not Jews. They never
seriously discuss--let alone urge--the right of return of expelled
Palestinians, although both Friedman and Rubin were aggressively
supportive of the right of return of Kosovo Albanians. The news
columns in their papers, and the mainstream media more generally,
also follow the official (U.S. and Israeli) party line and scant
all of these issues.
    In his "Arafat's War," which gives us Friedman's standard
"injustice" model, characteristic of the Times as an institution,
and predominant throughout the mainstream media, Friedman mentions
the "old complaints about the brutality of the continued Israeli
occupation and settlement building. Frankly, the Israeli
checkpoints and continued settlement building are oppressive." He
finesses this huge set of issues by making them "old" (stale), and
avoiding details, numbers, or discussing the racist violence in
expropriation for Israeli Jews only, the large-scale violations of
the Fourth Geneva Convention, or the beggaring of the Palestinians
under Oslo. He also argues that such matters are now irrelevant
because Barak has offered "unprecedented compromises," so that if
the Palestinians don't fall in line with these any violence is
their fault. He never discusses why Sharon engaged in his
provocation or explains why this act by an Israeli leader does not
deserve considerable weight; and he fails to acknowledge Barak's
support of the provocation and never suggests that these Israeli
actions might be related to Israeli politics. And he has not one
word of criticism of the Israeli killings of September 29 or the
ensuing brutal repression. He mentions the "gleeful savage mob
murder of Israeli soldiers in Ramallah," but otherwise there was
only a "week of Israeli-Palestinian killings," but no "murders" let
alone "gleeful savage murders" of Palestinians.
    Friedman never mentions that the vague terms of the Oslo deal
allowed Israel, with total U.S. support, to double settlements and
create facts on the ground extremely damaging to Palestinian
welfare. Thus the "old complaints about brutality" etc., continued
despite that prior good deal. Now the new good deal gives the
Palestinians a fine alternative--"more than 90 percent of the West
Bank for a Palestinian state, a partial resolution of the refugee
problem and Palestinian sovereignty over the Muslim and Christian
quarters of the Old City of Jerusalem..." Even Bill Clinton likes
this plan, so what more need be said about fairness? The "90
percent" figure is the Israeli version, that allows a "facts on
the ground" Greater Jerusalem to be counted as part of Israel--so
that 70 to 80 percent may be more accurate. There is also the
question of the quality of the land, the implicit Israeli control
of the mountain acquifer under the West Bank, and the fact that the
land allocations, Jewish settlements, and "for Jews only" road
networks have broken the "90 percent" into unconnected enclaves,
with no borders except with Israel. This is a bantustan solution
that does not yield a viable or independent state; and of course it
does not return to the Palestinians any of the property stolen even
since 1993 for Israel's "security" and lebensraum for some of the
chosen people.
    Friedman is satisfied with the "partial resolution" of the
refugee problem that involves Israel recognizing Palestinian "pain"
and promising to allow a "return" to "historic Palestine," which
includes the West Bank where the refugees are already congregated,
not to their original homes and not promising compensation in lieu
of such return. Palestinian sovereignty over the Muslim and
Christian quarters of the Old City does not include Harim Al
Sharif, and those Muslim and Christian quarters have been broken
into pieces by expropriations and massive Israeli construction for
Jews only since the last good deal (1993).
    So "Arafat's War" rests on the failure of the Palestinians to
acknowledge total defeat: their unwillingness to accept all the
past injustices, including post-1993 expropriations, a bantustan
system worse than that imposed by South Africa under apartheid, and
continued military domination by a country that has been a wee bit
"oppressive" (Clinton and Barak demanded a demilitarized
Palestinian state, and continued Israeli occupation rights in the
West Bank, out of consideration for Israeli security). If Arafat
wouldn't accept this, and sign another imprecise agreement that
once again left much to the goodwill of Israel and its sponsor, all
the violence is his doing.
    This is the "injustice model" that amounts to crude apologetics
for ethnic cleansing. And it was hardly confined to Friedman and
the New York Times editorial pages. It was pretty standard in the
news as well as editorial pages that it was Arafat's choice of
"Peace or Victimhood" (Jane Perlez, "Fork in Arafat's Road," NYT,
Dec. 29, 2000).

3B. Arafat and the return to terrorism
     For years Arafat and the PLO were terrorists for Israeli and
U.S. officials, and therefore for the mainstream media. Israel has
only engaged in retaliation and counterterror, by rule of political
bias, whatever the facts. Then in 1991, when Arafat surrendered and
allowed himself to be sucked into a "peace process" that made him
the Israeli enforcer, but gave his people absolutely nothing, he
suddenly ceased to be a terrorist and became a statesman! With
Intifada II, however, and his failure to perform his function of
keeping his defeated people under control, he has been tentatively
returned at least in some media to the terrorist class.
    So we find regular media references to Arafat's responsibility
for failing to contain the violence, speculations on whether he
actually stirred it up to improve his bargaining position with
Israel, and admonitions to Arafat to get his people under control.
Among many other cases,  Time had him taking a "chancy gamble;" the
Inquirer's Trudy Rubin said he "fanned, or failed to calm,
religious and national passions" (Oct. 18, 2000), and she asked
"Can Arafat stop the violence" (Nov. 1, 2000). Some of the claims
of his deliberate incitements have come from Israeli army and
intelligence sources, which the media find highly newsworthy (Tracy
Wilkinson, "Is the violence beyond Arafat's control?," Los Angeles
Times, Oct.4, 2000). Jane Perlez asks "Can Arafat Turn It Off?,"
subtitled "U.S. Officials Debate Degree of His Control" (NYT, Oct.
17, 2000). There have not been any articles entitled "Is the
violence beyond Barak's [or Sharon's] control?," nor have the media
been able to locate anybody to assess Barak's motives and
responsibility. And in a spectacular display of bias they rarely if
ever suggested that Barak could or should have stopped the
wholesale violence that he carried out from September 29, 2000;
only "Arafat had a choice" (Rubin), not Barak, or Sharon, who are
implicitly engaging in "retaliation" and "counterterror," in a
longstanding propaganda tradition.

C. Pushing the children forward as martyrs
     In a similar and disgusting pattern, the mainstream media have
also latched on to the claim that the Palestinians are callously
pushing their children forward to die, that they suffer from a
martyr syndrome, and that the parents, Arafat, and the penchant
toward martyrdom are therefore responsible for the numerous
shooting deaths of children (Chris Hedges, "The Deathly Glamour of
Martydom," NYT, Oct. 29, 2000). This penchant for martyrdom is also
responsible for the breakdown of peace (John Burns, "The Promise of
Paradise That Slays Peace," NYT, April 1, 2001).
    The Philadelphia Inquirer played the martyrdom line with relish,
with a news article on "Grieving Arabs find comfort in concept of
martydom" (Oct. 25, 2000), an op-ed column by Rubin on "The
children's crusade" that blames the Palestinians for the death of
their children (Oct. 25), and a cartoon by Tony Auth showing Arafat
urging children to plunge to martyrs' deaths over a cliff (Oct. 26).
Auth has twice had cartoons showing Arafat with blood on his
hands, but never an Israeli leader.
    Uri Avnery notes that this ready attribution of responsibility
for the child killings to the Arab parents "betrays an obnoxious
racism" ("Israel/Palestine: Twelve Conventional Lies," Oct. 21,
2000). He also observes that Palestinian parents can hardly
restrain their children "when they live under a cruel occupation
and their brothers and sisters provide examples of heroism and
self-sacrifice" in a tradition going back to 16 year-old Joan of
Arc. He also points out that there is a Jewish tradition of
children fighters and heroes, and that the settlers routinely
exploit their children, "not hesitating to put them in harms way,"
and without eliciting any suggestions of irresponsibility and a
desire for martyrdom on the part of the critics of Palestinian
     "The right question is why do our soldiers kill these children?
And in some cases in cold blood?" But that is Eyad Serraj writing
in Le Monde Diplomatique (Nov. 2000), not a U.S. mainstream news
source. Rarely if ever do the media point out that the Israelis are
doing the shooting, that many of the children are shot with the
intent to seriously injure or kill them, and that non-lethal
methods of crowd control are available and are used by the
Israelis, but only when dealing with protests by Israeli Jews.
      In a more general argument for Palestinian voluntary self-
sacrifice and Israeli innocence, General Wesley Clark, wrote in
Time, that "For Israel, every casualty, even among the
Palestinians, is a loss. For the Palestinians, every clash is
strategic and offensive, increasing the pressure on Israel,
building support in the Arab world and, with every Israeli
response, affording the opportunity to further isolate Israel..."
("How to Fight an Asymmetric War," Oct. 23, 2000). This apologetic-
-and the article's title points up its design to advise Israel--
which is based on no evidence, does not explain why Israel should
engage in aggressive and lethal responses that are allegedly
"losses," fails to explore the hypothesis that Israel is repeating
its handling of Intifada I where its strategy was explicitly to
break the protest movement by terror, and it assumes that
Palestinian behavior is based on a plan rather than an
uncontrollable explosion based on serious injustice, started by the
Sharon-Barak provocation, and kept alive by Israel's brutal

3D. The United States as honest broker
   The Israelis do not want any interference with their ethnic
cleansing, so they "rightly resist any shift to an international
format," as it was expressed in a New York Times editorial of
November 13, 2000, and the Israelis are happy to have the United
States, the 50-odd year sponsor and underwriter of their ethnic
cleansing, as a substitute for a genuine international presence.
The appropriateness of this arrangement thus becomes the U.S.
official position and media truth, and the demand for international
protection of the victims of Israel's ethnic cleansing becomes not
a moral issue fulfilling that new Western dedication to protecting
defenceless people but rather "a favorite of Palestinians" (Keith
Richburg, "Israel rejects international presence," Phila. Inquirer,
Nov. 11, 2000). Richard Holbrooke says that "no force would be
supported without Israeli approval" (Nicole Winfield, "Arafat
appeals for U.N. protection, but Israel, U.S. oppose," Phila.
Inquirer, Nov. 11, 2000), so that settles the matter for the
mainstream media. No comparison with Kosovo, no mention of the
similar performance in East Timor where the Clinton team deferred
to its Indonesia client, thereby allowing the destruction of East
   Nor will the media ever discuss the huge, long-standing pro-
Israeli bias of the U.S. government that has protected Israeli
expropriations and ethnic cleansing for an entire generation. As
noted earlier, Thomas Friedman cites Clinton's approval of Barak's
peace proposal as if an assessment by an honest broker, not a
partisan. On the aggressively pro-ethnic cleansing right, William
Safire postulates that Clinton and company really are honest
brokers, and decries this fact as "Israel Needs an Ally, It does
not need a broker" (NYT, Oct. 12, 2000).
    Although the Palestinians have been militarily defeated and
ethnically cleansed by a powerful combination of a superpower and
its main client, it is essential that the mainstream press pretend
that the supportive superpower is objective and not helping the
ethnic cleansing state capture the fruits of this rather uneven
military contest. The media have cooperated fully in doing this,
although occasionally the  Times, for example, allows it to be
mentioned that the Palestinians are becoming a bit distrustful of
the honest broker! (William Orme, "As New Peace Talks Go On,
Palestinians Criticize Clinton," NYT, Jan. 23, 2001).

3E. "Impatient" Israelis versus Serbian "Willing Executioners"
      The mainstream media repeatedly tell us that the Israelis have
"lost patience" with the Palestinians, with the "peace process,"
and with their leaders who have allowed this new spate of
(Palestinian) "violence." If Barak's approval rating went up from
20 to 50 percent following his and Sharon's show of force at al-
Aqsa, and if they have voted in the ruthless Sharon and now support
a more brutal response to the Intifada, this does not discredit the
populace for murderous attitudes and extremism. On the contrary, it
is a given to which the world must adjust. Back in 1999, Stacy
Sullivan asked: what if a people "supports ethnic cleansing--
actively or passively? In that case, we do have a quarrel with
the...people...It is the very mentality of the nation." But she was
talking about the SERBS as "Milosevic's Willing Executioners" (New
Republic, May 10, 1999), not a populace supporting an approved
ethnic cleansing.
   In reference to the Serbs, the official and therefore media party
line was that what the Serb armed forces were doing to the
Albanians in Kosovo was ugly and criminal and must be stopped, so
the idea of Serb "impatience" with the Kosovo Albanians for their
resistance and "terrorism" would have been viewed as outlandish.
The question was: how guilty were ordinary Serbs for the crimes of
their government, and even though the Serbs were alleged to be
suffering under a "dictatorship," Anthony Lewis, Blaine Harden, and
Thomas Friedman in the Times and Stacy Sullivan and Daniel Jonah
Goldhagen in the New Republic, and many others, found the Serbs
guilty, either because of their indifference concerning their
government's crimes or their positive support, as "willing
   In the case of Israelis, many more of them than Serbs have been
openly in favor of violence against their state's victims, and
there are numerous available quotes of Israelis saying "I would
kill all Arabs," "Arabs must be eliminated," and that Palestinians
are mere "grasshoppers" and that these "vipers" should be
"annihilated" (Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, spiritual leader of Israel's
Shas party, speaking on April 9, 2001). But here, in this case of
an approved ethnic cleansing, the media not only don't suggest
Israeli citizen guilt, Israeli support of escalated state terrorism
against Palestinians is reported antiseptically and even
sympathetically, as the Israelis are the victims of "terrorism" but
never themselves terrorize. They may be killing and wounding
innocent civilians at a rate 20 or more times the rate of their
victimization by the "terrorists," but that doesn't affect an
equation where the value of lives of the terrorists and their
families is zero.

4. Suppression of Inconvenient Facts
    Eye aversion is extremely important in protecting the approved
system of institutionalized injustice and ethnic cleansing. Thus,
the mainstream U.S. media simply won't discuss the laws applying to
an occupying power and their responsibilities under the Fourth
Geneva Convention, and Israel's massive violations of these rules
in expropriations, discriminatory use of water and other matters
are barely noted. The violence of Israel in imprisonments, torture,
beatings, killings and injuries, and aid and protection to settler
violence is enormously greater than Palestinian violence against
Israel, but it is downplayed and relevant information on these
matters is subjected to massive suppression.
    Let me give a small sample illustrative of suppressions, taken
from a very large pool, by class of suppression. It should be noted
that what is suppressed is very often reports by UN bodies, human
rights groups, Palestinian and Arab sources, and other individuals
and reporters who fail to meet agenda standards. They put Israel in
too bad a light, or mention U.S. military or counterinsurgency aid
not helpful to the image of an honest broker. Barak, Sharon,
Israeli army sources, and U.S. officials, although hugely biased
and guilty of repeated lies, are the steady basis of the "news"
agenda, which explains why whether Arafat can control the violence
is an issue but not whether Barak, Sharon and Clinton or Bush can
do the same


     1. UN Special Report on Israel for the Committee on Economic,
Social, and Cultural Rights, dated Nov. 13, 2000, strongly
condemning Israel violations of the Geneva Convention, Oslo
agreement, and human rights, was not mentioned in the U.S. media.

    2. UN report of Feb. 26, 2001, which described the Israeli
closures on the West Bank and Gaza as being "the most severe and
sustained set of move restrictions imposed on the Occupied
Palestinian Territory since the  beginning of the occupation in
1967," was completely ignored in the U.S. mainstream media.


    1. Human Rights Watch's report charging that "Israeli soldiers
have abused hundreds of Palestinian drivers, beating them and
slashing their car tires on roads in the West Bank," released on
February 27, was not cited anywhere in the U.S. mainstream media.

    2. Human Rights Watch's report of April 11, 2001, "Center of
the Storm," called "a very severe report on the killing and
wounding of Palestinian civilians in Hebron by Israeli Defense
Forces soldiers and Jewish settlers," was featured twice in
Ha'aretz and once in London's Independent, but was mentioned in
passing only in the Washington Post (April 16), and was otherwise
entirely blacked out in the U.S. media.

    3. AI's report of December 8, 1999, on the Israeli policy of
house demolitions, was unreported in the U.S. mainstream media.

    4. AI's report of Oct. 26, 2000 charging that Israel's failure
to investigate deaths cheapens life was mentioned briefly in the
Washington Post (Nov. 2) and Boston Globe (Nov. 2), but was
featured nowhere in the mainstream media.

    5. AI's Nov. 3, 2000 report condemning Israel's attacks on
civilians was mentioned in the Los Angeles Times (Nov. 5), but was
not featured there or mentioned elsewhere.

   6. AI's Nov. 9, 2000 report charging that mass arrests in
Jerusalem and northern Israel are often followed by police beatings
was mentioned (but not featured) only in the Chicago Tribune (Nov.
15), Chicago Sun-Times (Nov. 14), and The Oregonian (Nov. 16).

   7. AI's Nov. 24, 2000 call for the deployment of human rights
observers was mentioned only in the New York Times on the back page
and dismissively (Nov. 28, 2000), and in The Deseret News (Nov. 25,

  8. AI's Jan. 24, 2001 report charging impunity in the case of
the killing of Palestinians (specifically criticizing a nominal
sentence for a settler's murder of an 11 year old Palestinian
child) was unmentioned in the mainstream media.

    1. The Hebrew weekly Kol Ha'ir reported on January 26 that
"U.S. Marines Trained with Tsahal [IDF] for Reconquest of the
Territories of the Palestinian Authority." Picked up by Agence
France Presse on January 27, 2001, this was unreported in the U.S.

   2. Defense journals and Boeing reported the Boeing sale of nine
Apache Longbow helicopters to Israel in February 2001, but the
mainstream media failed to report this transaction (and other major
weapons sales and transfers to Israel were of equal disinterest).

   3. Israel and the "honest broker" also carried out joint
exercises in February 2001 to test Patriot air defense missiles
transferred from U.S. bases in Germany to Israel. This evidence of
an extremely close military relationship between the two countries
was mentioned in passing in the Washington Post (February 20,
2001), but nowhere else in the mainstream media.

    1. The Palestine Monitor reported on March 19, 2001, that
"Israeli soldiers at Al Ram checkpoint fired tear gas canisters and
sound bombs directly at Palestinians participating in a peaceful
women's march. Women were beaten with the butts of rifles by the
soldiers. 15 women have been transported to nearby hospitals. The
march was organized by the Union of Palestinian Women's Committees
to protest the continued Israeli imposed closure and siege on the
Occupied Palestinian Territories. Eyewitnesses report that the
march from Ramallah to Al Ram checkpoint was completely peaceful
from the Palestinian side." This incident was unreported in the
U.S. media.

    2. On February 20, 2001, the National School for Blind Girls in
al-Bireh was shelled by Israeli tanks and heavy weaponry for three
hours, seriously damaging the building and terrifying the disabled
girls. The attacks apparently resulted because a nearby Jewish
settlement had been fired upon by unknown parties. This incident
was unreported in the U.S. mainstream media.

    3. In early January a 10 year-old Palestinian girl Ella Ahmed in
El Sawiya, near Nablus, died of a burst appendix after Israeli
soldiers twice refused to allow passage to a hospital in Nablus.
This was reported in Ha'aretz on January 9, but was not picked up
in the U.S. media.

    4. Sabreen Balout was born in a taxi on January 24, as the
Israeli Defense Forces refused to allow passage to a hospital, and
in fact insisted that the passengers in the taxi, including the
baby still linked to her mother by an umbilical cord, get out of
the cab on a cold rainy night. This was reported in Ha'aretz, but
not in the U.S. media.

    5. UNRRA director Peter Hansen issued an unusual press release
and report on March 11 declaring that Israeli policy in the West
Bank and Gaza in destroying roads, uprooting trees, and damaging
agricultural land in the interest of "security," not only violated
international norms and law, it threatened a "humanitarian
catastrophe."  This UNRRA material was not picked up in the U.S.
mainstream media.

6. Normalizing Structural Violence: Demolitions
    The media's treatment of Israel's systematic demolitions of
Palestinian homes provides an enlightening case study in bias. The
policy of demolitions is horrendously inhumane and with its racist
concentration on Palestinian homes is reminiscent of Nazi practice.
There has been a steady stream of stories on the web issued by the
Ethnic NewsWatch, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions
(ICHAD), the Palestinian Land Defense Committee (PLDC), Christian
Peacemaker Teams (CPT), the Hebron Solidarity Committee (HSC), and
other groups, that describe army demolitions that push out
Palestinians virtually without notice. (Check out the website of
the Hebron Solidarity Committee: "CPT Hebron" <cptheb@mail.palnet.com>.)
    These stories are numerous, dramatic, and often heart-breaking
as Jewish Israeli protesters and Christian teams often struggle to
protect Palestinians from the racist onslaught of the army and
settlers. The stories often describe demolitions of houses being
rebuilt by protesters and then being bulldozed out of existence by
the army for a second or third time. As noted earlier, Amnesty
International had a report on this savage policy, stressing the
racist essence, the widespread Palestinian fear of being
demolished, and the murderous character of the policy--in one case,
100 border police coming without notice, starting to destroy a
house, Palestinians starting to throw stones, and the police
shooting dead Zaki 'Ubayd, a 28-year old father. This AI report was
ignored by the Free Press.
     A Nexis search of coverage of demolitions of Palestinain homes
in the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Time and
Newsweek for the five years from January 1, 1996 through December
31, 2000, comes up with only 23 articles: none in Time, one in
Newsweek, five in the New York Times, 11 in the Washington Post,
and six in the Los Angeles Times. With only a single exception in
the Washington Post, these articles never mention the Israeli
Committee Against Demolitions, the Hebron Solidarity Committee, and
the Palestinian Land Defense Committee. Only two of the 23 articles
made the front page, and only five give substantial detail on the
brutality of the practice and suffering of the Palestinian victims.
Twenty of the 23 give the Israeli rationale that the Palestinian
homes were illegally built, and nine mention the demolitions as
being a response to Palestinian violence; only six note that
Palestinians are not allowed to build, and only one suggests even
indirectly that the demolitions and settlements violate the Oslo
accords as well as the Fourth Geneva Convention.
     In that single exceptional case, Steven Erlanger says that
"While Labor governments have also expanded existing settlements
and the Oslo accords do not limit them from doing so, the
Palestinians have complained that Israel now builds large new
neighborhoods near existing settlements in order to call them
expansion, rather than label them new." (NYT, Sept. 12, 1997). Note
first that Erlanger's statement that Oslo does not preclude
expanding settlements is strictly the Israeli interpretation of
general language; and he cannot admit that new settlements have
taken place, but only speaks of Palestinian complaints. He does not
discuss whether doubling the number of settlers and other Israeli
actions might possibly violate the spirit of Oslo.
   In sum, in a period of intense demolition activity by Israel, the
five print media examined treated the issue in very low key, with
zero editorial attention. They created a phony balance by giving
serious weight to alleged building code-violations and responses to
Palestinian terrorism as the basis for Israeli policy, downplaying
the violations of Oslo and international law, the hugely
discriminatory features of Israeli law, and the direct terroristic
abuses of the army and settlers in demolishing and taking over
Palestinian property. They handled the issue in such a manner that
the U.S. public would hardly know of this practice, and would
hardly be roused to indignation, in contrast with their responses
to the media's focus on Palestinian stone throwing and other

7. Rewriting History
     In systems of propaganda, not only are inconvenient facts
blacked out or treated in very low key where awkward, but history
is also rewritten. Thus it has long been an important part of
Israeli, U.S. official, and hence mainstream media propaganda that
Arafat and the PLO have always been "rejectionist" whereas Israel
and its sponsor have been patiently awaiting a negotiating partner.
However, it has been shown time and again that this is an Orwellian
inversion--that in fact only the ethnic cleanser and its sponsor
have rejected an international consensus, long accepted by the PLO
and Soviet Union as well as everybody but the "nyet duo," that
would have returned the "occupied territories" to the Palestinians
and involved mutual recognition. (For convincing evidence, Chomsky,
Fateful Triangle, Updated Edition, chap. 3; or his World Orders New
and Old, chap. 3.)
      Another key myth has been that the Palestinian flight of 1948-
1949 was carried out voluntarily, not mainly by deliberate Israeli
violence. This myth was long ago exploded by Israeli historians
like Benny Morris and Simha Flapan, among others, but it also
continues to live even today within the U.S. propaganda system.
Thus, Elie Wiesel says that "Incited by their leaders, 600,000
Palestinian left the country convinced that, once Israel was
vanquished, they would be able to return home" ("Jerusalem in My
Heart," NYT, Jan. 24, 2001), and this fabrication is not only
published by the Newspaper of Record, it is not corrected in the
letters columns or "Corrections." It also shows up uncorrected in
the "news," where reporter John Kifner says that 52 years ago
"750,000 people fled the fighting that commenced with the Arab
attack on the newly created state of Israel" (NYT,Dec. 31, 2000).
They didn't "flee the fighting," most of them were deliberately
driven out in the first phase of "redeeming the land."

8. Conclusions: The Media's Supportive Role in Ethnic Cleansing; Where
Will It End In Making a "Safe" Israel?
    Robert Fisk notes that "Oddly, you can now learn more from the
Israeli press than the American media. The brutality of Israeli
soldiers is fully covered in Ha'aretz, which also reports on the
large number of U.S. negotiators who are Jewish. Four years ago, a
former Israeli soldier described in an Israeli newspaper how his
men had looted a village in southern Lebanon; when the piece was
reprinted in the New York Times, the looting episode was censored
out of the text" (Independent, Dec. 13, 2000).
    The U.S. mainstream media's coverage of Middle East issues shows
a genuine propaganda system in action. As I have shown, the media
have done a truly outstanding job of supporting state policy by
making Israel's ethnic cleansing palatable, finding the victims the
source of the violence, and thus facilitating virtually any level
of wholesale violence Israel deems necessary to protect itself
against "terrorism." As its ethnic cleansing policies inevitably
produce secondary reactions to the primary (Israeli) violence, the
media therefore contribute to an escalating process with no decent
end in sight.
     A "safe" Israel could be obtained by accommodation to a
Palestinian presence with justice, but that has never been
consistent with the Israeli policy of "redeeming the land" from the
Gentiles, and there is no evidence that it has been seriously
considered as a policy option in the Clinton and Oslo years or in
any Bush signals or media perspectives. The other routes to a
"safe" Israel, although cruel, dangerous, and almost certain to
fail, are more consistent with the drift of actual policy, Sharon's
victory, and media apologetics for everything Israel has done up to
this moment. One route is a more aggressive policy of expulsions
from any contested territory, a solution long advocated by
Netanyahu and Sharon. The other route, easily combined with a
policy of expulsion, is a still more violent crackdown that would
kill or injure even larger numbers in the hope that this would
escalate an exodus, directly deplete Palestinian numbers, and keep
any remnants passive from fear.
      I have no doubt that this semi-genocidal and dangerous policy,
already approached in the Intifada II crackdown, would be
effectively rationalized by the mainstream media as a regrettably
necessary response to "violence" and the demands of Israeli