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Note: You may have noticed that I often take information from the Gloria Center site, written by Barry Rubin, to share with the Yidwithlid readers. When he writes, Barry provides the perspective that can only be given by someone with his “inside knowledge.” The Good Professor is the head of the Gloria Center, which has some great new news:

The GLORIA Center is proud to announce its new site which includes MERIA Journal and our new blog. You can get an RSS feed or subscribe to our articles, MERIA or both. New items are posted daily. Visit http://www.gloria-center.org 
Please note that the official opening is March 8 so all functions might not be working before then. If you cannot subscribe before that time due to a system not functioning, please write me c/o Sammy here and I will put it in for you.
Barry Rubin



Innocent Victims…of Media Coverage
By Barry Rubin

It should be well-known that the rules applied to the Arab-Israeli conflict are different from those applied to any other place or issue in the world. Sometimes, in journalistic terms, these become so ridiculous that if one were to step back and look at things from a fresh, logical perspective the way they are dealt with should provoke laughter.

Three examples. First, on March 3 there is a story entitled, “Arab homes on Jewish historical site stoke strife,” by Ben Hubbard. This is a long article about the troubles of poor Palestinians in Jerusalem. But what is the story? Some 88 homes were built illegally, without any license, on top of one of the most important historical sites in the world, the City of David, which is slated to become an archaeological park.

So the houses are slated to be torn down. And how urgent is this? Well, it has been something planned for four years but hasn’t happened yet. To be fair, the article presents all the facts—in sharp distinction to many pieces done by Associated Press. But no doubt thousands of readers will come away with the idea that Israel is persecuting poor Palestinians. Yet anywhere else in the world the houses would either have been blocked from the start or torn down within weeks of being built.

Always entertaining are the articles based on such profound naiveté that it boggles the mind. On March 2, Karin Laub wrote, “Gazans want open borders, not handouts,” which tells us that people in Gaza don’t really want billions in foreign aid but nobly prefer, “Open borders than handouts.” This is, of course, an entire society based on people permanently receiving refugee aid rather than being resettled, so it is entirely based on handouts. Among those interviewed are smugglers who of course make their living by the fact that the borders are closed.

The whole article is designed to provoke sympathy with the Palestinians whose own role in their problem is simply not mentioned. Never is it mentioned that there is an Israeli being held hostage in Gaza. Never is it mentioned that mortar shells and rockets are daily fired at Israel. There is no motive given just cruelty and suffering. Here is the key paragraph:

“The closure of Gaza, imposed by Israel and Egypt after a violent Hamas takeover in June 2007, has deepened poverty and fostered militancy. A three-week military offensive in Gaza by Israel caused considerable destruction but left the militants in power.”

That is the AP narrative: Israel and Egypt are mean, they close Gaza, poverty is caused, militancy is fostered, and an attack causes even more destruction but changes nothing.

“Militants” are still in power, though left unsaid is that these militants are terrorists, engaged in an aggressive war, calling for genocide, and imposing a draconian Islamist state on their people. A minor detail. Incidentally, they also make it clear that no matter how many billions are given by donors it still won’t be enough. So the cries of victimhood go on forever.

Finally, February 28, 2009, “Rebuilding Gaza _ world faces daunting challenge,” by once again the reliable Karin Laub. Here is the lead:

“The seven foul-smelling lagoons of sewage near Gaza’s coast were supposed to be replaced by a globally funded waste treatment plant. Instead, they epitomize the nightmare faced by foreign donors as they seek to rebuild the territory and open a pathway to peace.

“The multimillion dollar project has been delayed by violence and a 20-month-old border closure that have made it difficult to bring supplies into Gaza. Now, after Israel’s devastating military offensive, clearing the lagoons is just one part of a much bigger challenge.”

Again, only Israel is blamed. Please note that Palestinian regimes have now governed Gaza for 16 years. During that time they had ample opportunity to deal with this and other such projects. They didn’t. The project was delayed by the Palestinian Authority’s incompetence and corruption and by the Hamas regime’s priority on waging war. If there was no violence, closure, or offensive those lagoons would still be there.

“There’s plenty of good will,” from donors, the article explains.

So what’s holding things up? The article gives two causes:

“But for reconstruction to move forward smoothly, toward pacifying Gaza and opening new horizons for Mideast peace efforts, a series of improbable events would need to happen.
“Gaza’s Hamas rulers would likely have to reconcile with their moderate West Bank rivals led by President Mahmoud Abbas. The Islamic militants would then have to soften their violent anti-Israel ideology and agree to share power with Abbas.

“Israel and Egypt would have to recognize Hamas’ governing role and reopen the borders they closed after Hamas seized Gaza by force in June 2007. Recently, Israel has also linked a border opening to long-stalled negotiations on a prisoner swap with Hamas.”
This is amazing. What do we need for peace? For the Palestinian Authority, Israel, and Egypt to give Hamas everything it wants in exchange for nothing. Oh, yes, the “militants” would have to soften their ideology and “agree to share power with Abbas,” in other words they would hold onto the Gaza Strip while taking a big share of “national” power and trying to take over the West Bank.

A lot of media coverage and a lot of AP coverage is like a caricature. It is just too ridiculous for words. Where is professionalism and media responsibility, not to mention fairness and accuracy?

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books, go to http://www.gloria-center.org

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