Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
US Media's Pro-Israeli Bias:
Response to the Freedom Flotilla Slaughter
By Stephen Lendman
Al-Jazeerah, ccun.org, June 7, 2010
In promoting his 2008 book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid,"
Jimmy Carter said one reason for writing it was "to provoke (unbiased)
discussion, which is very rarely heard in this country" on the question of
Israel. In America, "any sort of debate back and forth, any sort of incisive
editorial comment in the major newspapers, is almost completely
absent....There are no significant countervailing voices" to deter Israel
from getting away with murder, an illegal blockade, aggressive wars, and the
most extreme crimes against humanity; its latest, of course, the massacre of
peace activists taking aid to besieged Gazans.
Besides coming from
officials and their spokespersons, Israel's propaganda arm, Israel Politik,
said "Israel had no choice but to stop the flotilla from breaking the
blockade....While Israel was forced to take action in international waters,
its actions are supported by international maritime law."
Under international law, interdictions in international waters constitute
piracy in the broadest sense of the term, and blockades are acts of war,
variously defined as:
-- surrounding a nation or objective with
-- measures to isolate an enemy;
encirclement and besieging;
-- preventing the passage in or out of
supplies, military forces or aid in time of or as an act of war; and
-- an act of naval warfare to block access to an enemy's coastline and deny
entry to all vessels and aircraft.
According to international law
expert, Professor Francis Boyle, blockades under international law are:
"....belligerent measures taken by a nation (to) prevent passage of vessels
or aircraft to and from another country. Customary international law
recognizes blockades as an act of war because of the belligerent use of
force even against third party nations in enforcing the blockade. Blockades
as acts of war have been recognized as such in the Declaration of Paris of
1856 and the Declaration of London of 1909 that delineate the international
rules of warfare."
As an occupying power, Israel is obligated under
the Hague Regulations of 1907, Fourth Geneva, and numerous UN resolutions to
protect Palestinian rights, including for adequate food, health, education,
and housing. The blockade and occupation deny them. According to Amnesty
International (AI), "The blockade constitutes collective punishment under
international law and must be lifted immediately." So does the occupation.
Israel maintains them both repressively.
Yet Gaza poses no threat to
Israel. Blockades are only permissible during war for self-defense or by
Security Council authorization under the UN Charter's Article 42, stating:
Measures "to maintain or restore international peace and
security....may include demonstrations, blockade, and other operations by
air, sea, or land forces of Members of the United Nations."
siege is belligerent and illegal. Slaughtering unarmed aid activists at sea
is cold-blooded murder. Israel Politik falsely claims its "personnel
attempting to enforce the blockade were met with violence by the protesters
and acted in self defense to fend off such attacks."
for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) is a Boston-based
non-governmental Israel Politik equivalent, producing pro-Israel propaganda
while claiming to be impartial.
On May 31, it justified Israel's
Flotilla attack saying:
It was "to prevent pro-Palestinian radicals
from violating the naval blockade....during which passengers on the Mavi
Marmara violently attacked Israeli soldiers boarding the ship and drew fatal
Israeli fire" in return. Passengers on board were "inaccurate(ly called)
'human rights activists,' (and) 'peace activists.' "
The UN Refugee
Agency (UNHCR) calls Istanbul-based IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation "a
group of charitable people....extend(ing) humanitarian aid (in) every region
hit by wars, disasters, poverty and human rights abuses, and believes that
civilian initiatives play a complementary role" to activities of governments
and international organizations like UNHCR.
CAMERA claims IHH is
linked to "global jihad and Islamic terrorist elements in the Middle East
(and) served in the past as a cover for Al-Qaeda, acquiring forged
documents, enlisting operatives and transferring weapons."
accused the Mavi Marmara activists of conducting "rampaging....attack(s on)
Israeli troops." So much for impartiality and truth.
On June 1, the Washington Post's editorial
page headlined, "The flotilla fiasco," saying:
commandos who landed on the deck of the Turkish ferry Mavi Marmara off the
coast of the Gaza Strip early Monday were totally unprepared for what they
encountered: dozens of militants who swarmed around them with knives and
iron bars....We have no sympathy for the motives of the participants in the
flotilla - a motley collection that included European sympathizers with the
Palestinian cause, Israeli Arab leaders and Turkish Islamic
activists....some (with) ties to Hamas and al-Qaeda. What's plain is that
the group's nominal purpose, delivering 'humanitarian' supplies to Gaza, was
secondary to the aim of provoking a confrontation."
It doesn't get
much nastier than that, an account with more holes than swiss cheese, by a
pro-Israei editorial staff turning facts on their head.
Also by The
New York Times in its June 1 editorial headlined, "Israel and the Blockade,"
"The supporters of the Gaza-bound aid flotilla had more than
humanitarian intentions (in mind). The Gaza Freedom March made its motives
clear in a statement before Monday's deadly confrontation: 'A violent
response from Israel will breathe new life into the Palestine solidarity
movement, drawing attention to the blockade.' "
In typical New York
Times fashion, the editorial suggested that activists provoked violence, and
welcomed it when it came, instead of explaining they knew Israel planned a
confrontation, but were determined to reach Gaza anyway - a heroic act
considering what happened, unmentioned by The Times.
also referred to Israel's video suggesting its forces were attacked, and
that Hamas "seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007" - not its legitimacy
or that Fatah's West Bank takeover was illegal.
On June 1, here's
what London Guardian writers Dorian Jones and Helena Smith reported in their
article headlined, "Israelis opened fire before boarding Gaza flotilla, say
released activists," stating:
Survivors returning to Greece and
Turkey today gave "the first eyewitness accounts of the raid....Turkish
activist Milufer Cetin say(ing) Israeli troops opened fire before boarding."
"It was extremely bad and very tough clashes took place. The Mavi
Marmara is filled with blood," explaining that she and her child hid in
their cabin's bathroom during the attack.
"The operation started
immediately with firing. First it was warning shots, but when the (ship)
wouldn't stop these warnings turned into an attack. There were sound and
smoke bombs and later they used gas bombs. Following the bombings they
started to come on board from helicopters."
Kutlu Tiryaki, captain
of another Flotilla vessel, said:
"The attack on the Mavi Marmara
came in an instant: they attacked it with 12 or 13 attack boats and also
with commandos from (three or four) helicopters." Before communications were
cut off, "We were told....their crew and civilians were being shot at and
windows and doors were being broken by Israelis."
Dimitris Gielalis, aboard the Sfendoni, said:
everywhere we saw inflatables coming at us, and within seconds fully
equipped commandos came up on the boat. They came up and used plastic
bullets, we had beatings, we had electric shocks, any method we can think
of, they used."
Michalis Grigoropoulos, on the Free Mediterranean
"We were in international waters. The Israelis acted like
pirates, completely out of the normal way that they conduct nautical
exercises, and seized our ship. They took us hostage, pointing guns at our
heads; they descended from helicopters and fired tear gas and bullets. There
was absolutely nothing we could do. Those who tried to resist forming a
human ring on the bridge were given electric shocks." They took everything
On June 1, Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) issued a
Media Advisory headlined, "Reporting Israeli Assault Through Israel's Eyes,"
"The Attack on humanitarian flotilla prompts little media
skepticism," providing examples of pro-Israeli bias and "little regard to
For example, New York Times writer Isabel
Kershner reported on June 1 that "Despite sporadic rocket fire from the
Palestinian territory against southern Israel, Israel says it allows enough
basic supplies through border crossings to avoid an acute humanitarian
In fact, for many months, numerous human rights and aid
organizations have reported a grave, growing crisis, the UN Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs saying on May 18 that:
consequence of Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip, 98 percent of industrial
operations have been shut down since 2007 and there are acute shortages of
fuel, cash, cooking gas and other basic supplies....Water-related health
problems are widespread (after Cast Lead) destroyed water and sanitation
infrastructure, including reservoirs, wells, and thousands of kilometres of
Extreme shortages of everything exist. Vital to life
essentials are lacking. Malnutrition is chronic. Illnesses and diseases go
untreated for lack of medicines and supplies. Construction materials are
prohibited, preventing rebuilding, and poverty and unemployment levels are
extremely high among a population desperate for help - facts never reported
by the US media.
Many op-eds and editorials "focused on the fallout
for Israel and the United States, rather than the civilians killed or the
humanitarian crisis they were trying to address." The Washington Post's
Glenn Kessler, for example, on June 1, lamented how the assault "Complicates
Relations with the US," saying:
"The timing of the incident is
remarkably bad for Israel and the United States," while the Los Angeles
Times called it "a public relations nightmare for Israel."
from The New York Times Kershner, saying that Israeli criticism "offered a
propaganda coup to (its) foes, particularly the Hamas group that holds sway
in Gaza." No mention of its democratic election, its false label as a
terrorist organization sworn to Israel's destruction, Mahmoud Abbas'
US-financed and supported Fatah West Bank takeover and control, or that his
term of office expired in January 2009, but he refused to call a new
election or step down.
Nothing either about daily Israeli violence
and belligerency, the suffocating siege, 43 years of repressive occupation,
or true facts about the Flotilla attack - Mavi Marmara passengers saying
Israeli vessels surrounded the ship, firing on it before storming aboard by
According to Knesset Member Haneen Zoubi's first hand
This well-planned operation "wanted many deaths to
terrorize us and to send a message that no future aid convoys should try to
break the siege of Gaza." She also explained that commandos took control of
the ship, searched it and found no weapons or munitions.
Israel, US media accounts falsely claim otherwise, then lament about the
subsequent PR nightmare, not cold-blooded murder at sea. For example on June
1, the Washington Post reported the assault as follows:
touching down, the Israeli commandos, who were equipped with paint guns and
pistols, were assaulted with steel poles, knives and pepper spray. Video
showed at least one commando being lifted up and dumped from the ship's
upper deck to the lower deck. Some commandos later said they jumped into the
water to escape being beaten. The Israeli military said some of the
demonstrators fired live ammunition. The Israeli officials said the
activists had fired two guns stolen from the troops."
Sadly, this is
what passes for journalism in America, especially on television and talk
radio - disinformation, distortion and suppression of the truth that can't
pass the smell test - why Project Censored alerts about a "truth emergency,"
glaringly in reporting about Israel.
What Passes for TV News in
America - All Propaganda All the Time
Especially in reports about
Israel, a nation that can do no wrong on cable or broadcast news and talk
shows, leaving viewers hopelessly misinformed.
Never are guests like
Noam Chomsky invited on or are comments like his aired in response to the
Flotilla massacre, saying:
"It is worth bearing in mind that the
crime is nothing new. For decades, Israel has been hijacking boats in
international waters between Cyprus and Lebanon, killing or kidnapping
passengers, sometimes bringing them to prisons in Israel including secret
prison/torture chambers, sometimes holding them as hostages for many
Israel has been out-of-control for decades, now more than
ever under the extremist Netanyahu government, threatening anyone that dares
challenge it, including its own citizens. Try hearing that on corporate TV,
National Public Radio, Public Broadcasting or the BBC, all one-sidedly
On June 1, CNN highlighted Israel's side of the
Flotilla attack, airing, among its other officials, its UN deputy ambassador
saying the passengers "are not peace activists. They were not messengers of
goodwill." It then reported the IDF saying their troops "were met with
premeditated violence, evident by the activists' use of clubs, metal rods,
and knives, as well as the firing of two weapons stolen from the the
soldiers." Israeli forces then responded with "defensive action (fearing)
their lives were endangered," and seven were wounded.
Israeli video, not what activists shot that showed a true version of what
happened, then reported the following:
"A senior Israeli military
official, speaking on condition of anonymity in an account cleared by
military censors, displayed a box containing switchblade knives, slingshots
with metal balls and bats he said had been confiscated from one of the
boats. 'This was not spontaneous,' he said. 'This was planned.' "
May 31, CNN's national security commentator and former Bush administration
advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism said the following:
"....imagine for a moment if you had videotape of a US Navy Seal being
thrown by civilians off the side of a ship. We would be surprised if not
everybody on that ship was killed as a result of that."
words, murdering civilians is standard US policy, being implemented, of
course in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere, either directly or by
proxies. Israel follows the same practice, longstanding by both countries.
Other CNN reports were similar, leaving viewers to believe the
activists were terrorists, Israel merely responding in self-defense -
outrageous disinformation typical of CNN and the other networks.
always, Fox News viewers get a daily diet of irresponsible truth-free
reporting, so extreme at times it's unmatched.
On May 31, its online
Flotilla attack account headlined, "Israeli Officials Claim Aid Flotilla Had
Ties to Al Qaeda, PM Gives Military 'Full Support,' " saying Prime Minister
Netanyahu claimed Israeli soldiers were attacked and responded in
Israel's deputy UN ambassador, Daniel Carmon was
quoted saying: "What kind of peace activists use knives, clubs and fire from
weapons stolen from soldiers to attack (them) board(ing) a ship in
accordance with international law?" The Flotilla was organized by a "group
with a radical anti-western orientation that supports terrorist
organizations like Hamas and Al Qaeda."
Bill O'Reilly aired Israeli
video showing "its troops were attacked." Sean Hannity complained about the
Obama administration's "lack of support" for Israel. Glenn Beck asked if
"anyone questioned the hatred that socialists have for Israel or the Jews?"
Reporter Dana Lewis said the Flotilla was organized by a group with
"links to Al Qaeda," and that the IDF "says it's identified 50 passengers on
the ship with terrorist links." He also repeated the lie that Israeli
commandos were "armed mainly with paintball guns," and were "met (by) a
violent mob armed with bats, steel bars, knives....and even guns ripped from
Israeli troops who were beaten to the point they feared for their lives."
On his June 1 radio show, Rush Limbaugh raged against Obama for having
"strong personal and political ties to anti-Israeli leftists....The Israelis
(were) out there playing by the rules....This was not some innocent bunch of
people going in. This (was) an arms mission."
"Not one shred of
truth is being reported about this flotilla, who the people on (it) were or
what their purpose was. Their purpose was to get this provocation, (and)
their PR campaign (was) ready to go before the flotilla even set sail."
That's how "Islamists" operate. "What we're looking at here is another
all-out assault on an Israel-free Middle East."
Most worrisome is
that people believe this, leaving them hopelessly misinformed in support of
the wrong side.
Some Final Comments
On June 2, Netanyahu, a
common street thug serving as prime minister, told an interviewer that the
activists attacked "are extremist supporters of terror and violence....I
have to make clear that the Israeli soldiers protected their lives bravely
and also I'm very proud of what they did." Proud of cold-blooded murder he
means, Israel's longstanding policy.
On June 1, Israel rejected
international calls for an independent investigation and end to the Gaza
siege, Netanyahu blaming the victims, then adding:
to understand that the (blockade) is essential to protect Israel's security
and its right to defend itself. (Gaza is an) Iranian-sponsored terrorist
state," so it's vital to prevent weapons from entering.
State Hillary Clinton supports an Israeli probe, stressing it must be
"prompt, impartial, credible and transparent" - knowing full well it'll be a
whitewash like Israel's Cast Lead investigation, absolving its forces of any
Members of Congress praised the Israeli raid,
including Senators Joe Lieberman (I. CT) and Charles Schumer (D. NY) - the
senators from AIPAC. Also Senator John McCain (R. AZ), who like many in
Congress equate Muslims with terrorists. House members were just as
supportive, including Anthony Weiner (who advocated universal coverage, then
surrendered to Obamacare - D. NY), Gary Ackerman (D. NY), and numerous
On June 1, a top IDF navy commander told the Jerusalem Post
that Israel will use more aggressive force in the future to prevent ships
from breaking the blockade. "We boarded the ship and were attacked as if it
was a war. That will mean that we will have to come prepared in the future
as if it was war."
On June 4, 2009 in Cairo, Barack Obama called
violence "a dead end," in "seek(ing) a new beginning between the United
States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual
respect" without one religion competing with the other. They "share common
principles....of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all
-- intensified the Iraq
-- expanded war in Afghanistan;
-- wages it in
Pakistan's Northwest Waziristan;
-- targets Yemen and the Horn of
-- backed the Honduran coup;
-- occupied and
militarized Haiti for profit;
-- threatens Venezuela and other
-- most recently heightened tensions with North Korea over
a suspicious false flag incident; and
-- backs Israel's most
egregious crimes of war and against humanity, saying only, through a White
House spokesman, that he deeply "regrets the loss of lives and injuries
sustained, and is currently working to understand the circumstances
surrounding this tragedy," when it's perfectly clear what happened and who's
at fault. Something neither he or America's media can admit, despite
A conclusion so clear it got one
commentator to denounce the pro-Israeli chorus, saying their version is like
a carjacker telling police that the driver bashed him on the head with a
tire iron under his seat.
On June 3, Haaretz's Gideon Levy called
Netanyahu "a blind captain in the cockpit, flying his blindfolded passengers
with exemplary precision" enough to get "the whole world against us."
In a June 2, Asia Times op-ed, Pepe Escobar spoke for many when he said: "We
are all Gazans now."
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be
firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at
sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with
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