Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Web strives for peace in Gaza

by Larry Geller

Maybe newspapers really are passé. The online world is so much richer and immediate.

Since our daily papers are still afraid to go beyond what they consider safe from AIPAC retaliation, we need alternatives. I suppose that’s realistic, but nevermind, we have plenty of news to read on the Internet.

In Hawaii, you can join an email list offered by Patricia Blair (to be added, email her at For some time, she has worked for Mideast peace through truth and education. She strives to change attitudes through the information she finds and sends to her list. I’ve found her to be an invaluable resource, right here in Hawaii!

Patricia asked me to mention that Olelo Ch 54 offers Holyland Peace Programs: 1/26/09 at 9 a.m., 1/29/09 at 10:30 p.m., 1/26/09 at 4 p.m., 1/30/09 at 9 a.m., 2/11/09 at 6 p.m., 2/18/09 at 6 p.m. Different films and topics are offered by Dr. Ramsis Lutfy and Robert Stiver. Check these out, and I hope you’ll join Patricia’s list. You can always ask to be removed.

Moving on, this web news service leads with coverage of web-based actions for peace in Gaza. It’s the first part of this video, the rest is different. It’s not in-depth at all, but you can find that too. Google is helpful, and easier than a trip to the library (which may also becoming passé).

For live news of the Gaza conflict, the best source is Al Jazeera English. Most other coverage is almost useless, they have no people on the ground inside Gaza unless they were there before Israel locked out the foreign press. They’re usually reporting from Tel Aviv.

The New York Times is probably afraid it would lose subscriptions if it said anything (see the end of this snippet from the Guardian).

Since the military attacks began, the BBC has claimed that foreign reporters are banned from reporting from inside Gaza. Not quite. Al-Jazeera's Ayman Moyaheddin and Sherin Tadros have been reporting from inside Gaza from day one – because the banning order for foreign journalists only came after the borders were closed. The big networks, possibly for reasons of safety, didn't have a presence in Gaza. Al-Jazeera English has reported on attacks from both sides of the border, but arguably that news from inside Gaza has created one of the chinks in the armour of Operation Cast Lead. Not only have Israeli bombing raids been reported, but so has their bloody aftermath – and al-Jazeera has provided a platform for exasperated and enraged UN relief officials in the wake of attacks on UN facilities.

The most gruesome and graphic pictures are being broadcast by Arabic networks, prompting some in Israel to claim the images are being used as propaganda to whip up hysteria. Footage of bloodied corpses on stretchers and dead children staring glassy eyed are powerful and tend largely to be avoided by CNN or the BBC. And while the BBC does its best within the constraints of not being able to operate out of Gaza and remained even-handed, the sheer ferocity of the Israeli attack on Gaza has possibly bypassed the public in Britain.

In the United States, traditionally a close ally of Israel, television network coverage has, according to New York-based media analyst Danny Schecter, largely taken the line of the government. "Israel's enemies tend to be perceived as our enemies too," says Schecter. "You either believe what our media is telling us through Israeli eyes or you listen to Hamas and what others are saying – and they are often unable to speak clearly to an American audience." Compare and contrast the silver-tongued Israeli press spokesman with the dark glasses, and the head-dress wearing Hamas spokesman with AK47 motifs behind him, and you get Schecter's point.

And sloppiness is a factor too. My colleague Kristen Saloomey in New York even chanced upon this from an anchor for CNN Headline News: "Let's go live to Ben Wedemen in Stay-ro, er Stair-rot ... It's pronounced Sderot". And then, as Peter Preston reported recently in the Guardian, the voice of liberal America, The New York Times, has so far managed to produce only one editorial, not a single commentary by any of its columnists and only two-op-eds, one of which was published elsewhere. [The Guardian (London), 1/14/2009]

Since US cable carriers won’t carry Al Jazeera English, you have to tune in on the web. Check it out. They are there, on the ground, very much as CNN used to be. You can even get a Twitter feed from them.

Another reliable news source has been Democracy Now. Their Gaza coverage has been superb. Catch them on Oahu at 7:00 a.m. on channel 53 or on channel 56 at 10 p.m. M-F. See their Hawaii schedule and some headlines on the left side of this page.


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