Deja Vu – Death, Gaza, and The BBC.

I am struck by a horrible feeling of deja vu as I watch, once again, Israel’s ultra-modern war machine pound the besieged civilian population in Gaza.  Yet again the death and suffering falls mostly on the Palestinian side – Israel killed more Palestinians in one day this week than Hamas have killed Israelis in 3 years – and once again the mainstream media, exemplified by the not-quite-impartial BBC, take great pains to obfuscate and lie by omission about the causes of the conflict.

The story, as provided by the BBC etc, acting as a mouthpiece for Israel, is that Israel is defending itself from rocket attacks.  Because only Israel is allowed to defend it’s citizens.  Palestine is not allowed that right.  It is noteworthy that the BBC and others say that “relative calm” prevailed before the recent upsurge in violence.  This “relative calm” is when Palestinians die quietly.  For Palestinians, every day is oppression, with shortages of water, food, medicines, the freedom to move, to travel, and just about every other thing you and I take for granted.  Gaza has been described as the world’s largest prison, as a refugee camp, and as an open-air concentration camp.  “Relative calm” for Palestinians is daily humiliation and death.  We, in the West, only notice when they dare to resist.  And that is only to tell them to stop, to, in effect, die quietly.

But the context is nearly always missing from media reports.  The history of the Israel/Palestine conflict did not start last week, or even last month.  It didn’t even start last year, or the year before.  Neither did it begin the last time Israel blitzed Gaza in 2008,  killing thousands, and nor did it start when the people of Gaza elected Hamas to be their government.

The occupation of Palestinian land by Israel has been going on for decades.  And they are taking more and more every year.  This ongoing criminal and immoral theft of land is the context that is regularly missing from media reports.  For example, when was the last time you saw this map on the BBC?

See how much land has been taken from the Palestinians?  They are being squeezed continuously into a smaller and smaller patch of land.  Their ever diminishing borders  and skies are controlled by Israel.  Israel controls how much food etc goes into the Palestinian territories.  Much is spoken about Israel’s ‘right to exist’, but rarely, if ever, will you hear about Palestine’s right to exist.  Palestine is slowly but surely being ‘wiped from the map’.  It is not going over the top, I think, to call it ethnic cleansing.  What else would you call what you see on the above map?

Israel occupies, blockades, settles, evicts, invades, destroys, brutalizes, bombs and kills.  Yet somehow our media always seem to pain it as the victim.  It is perverse, and an absolute travesty of the truth.

The incursion and bombardment of Gaza is not about destroying Hamas.  It is not about stopping rocket fire into Israel, it is not about achieving peace.

“The Israeli decision to rain death and destruction on Gaza, to use lethal weapons of the modern battlefield on a largely defenseless civilian population, is the final phase in a decades-long campaign to ethnically-cleanse Palestinians.

“Israel uses sophisticated attack jets and naval vessels to bomb densely-crowded refugee camps, schools, apartment blocks, mosques, and slums to attack a population that has no air force, no air defense, no navy, no heavy weapons, no artillery units, no mechanized armor, no command in control, no army… and calls it a war.  It is not a war, it is murder.

“When Israelis in the occupied territories now claim that they have to defend themselves, they are defending themselves in the sense that any military occupier has to defend itself against the population they are crushing.  You can’t defend yourself when you’re militarily occupying someone else’s land.  That’s not defense.  Call it what you like, it’s not defense.
Chris Hedges/Noam Chomsky.   Quote widely attributed to Chomsky, but turns out to be splice of Hedges and Chomsky.  The point remains.

Further reading –

Dissecting IDF Propaganda – The Numbers Behind The Rocket Attacks.

Analysis/Background from Jews For Justice.

Who is Jonathon Sacerdoti, the BBC’s ‘neutral’ expert on the Middle East?

Gaza Blitz – Turmoil and Tragicomedy at the BBC.

Latest Israeli Offensive Aimed at Destroying Chance of Peace.

Siding With the Powerful – UK Media Coverage of Assault on Gaza.

TIMELINE – Israel’s Latest Assault on Gaza.

Chomsky on Gaza.

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How I Became a Black Sheep.

I watched the film ‘Broken Arrow’ on television last night.  Despite the fact I went to see it at the cinema in 1996, I could remember nothing of it.  After watching it again I realized why – it is absolute garbage.  Still, the film did get me thinking.    It started me off on a nostalgia trip to my salad days, and in particular my life in 1996, and how it evolved over the following few years.

In 1996 I was 24 and earning VERY good money with British Gas as a service engineer.   I had a pension, and was also the regular recipient of dividend cheques from a multitude of shares that British Gas kept throwing my way.  I also had a £21,000 mortgage on a little flat on Castlegreen Street in Dumbarton.  Life seemed a complete doddle.

Broken Arrow was released in the UK during April of 1996, and it would have been there or thereabouts that I first saw it.  I remember going to see it with my then girlfriend Fiona, at the UCI multiplex in Clydebank.    I’ll admit now that it wasn’t one of my better ideas for a date.  Whether she had a thing for John Travolta I can’t recall, though I can’t imagine anyone fancying Travolta in that movie.  His girning alone would be enough to give any woman nightmares.

Life seemed so easy in those days.  The only clouds on my horizon were generally the product of my lovelife.  I had no real awareness of the wider world outside my own social circle, and had no thoughts or opinions on anything ‘political’.  My life revolved around work and beer, with increasing forays into dope, and guitar-generated rock and roll.

It was in about 1996 that I started to become a regular concert go-er.  Looking at my collection of ticket stubs, I can see how my musical tastes gradually changed.  In 1996 I was paying to see Bon Jovi, Oasis, Del Amitri, Reef, and Ocean Colour Scene.  By 1997 I was watching the Verve, Skunk Anansie, Live, Primal Scream, Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins, and Beck.

The late 90’s went on to become, for me, something akin to a ‘perfect storm’.   I had moved away from Dumbarton to live in Rothesay on the sunny Isle of Bute.   For the first time in my adult life the Labour Party had won election to Government.  My formerly apolitical nature had been eroded by exposure to the music of Public Enemy and Rage Against the Machine.  And possibly most significant of all was the new time I found for reading.   I started reading broadsheet newspapers, particularly the Glasgow Herald, and a new work colleague was introducing me to the works of Noam Chomsky, Richard Brautigan, Kurt Vonnegut, Tom Waits, and Hunter Thompson.  I developed strong views on nuclear weapons, on the 1998 Gulf War, and the 1999 Kosovo bombing.  Almost despite myself, I was slowly turning into some kind of political black sheep.

And suddenly life seemed not so simple.   I saw in the millenium listening to Godspeed You Black Emperor and Mogwai.

Before long I was resigning from British Gas and getting arrested in front of nuclear submarine bases.

I wish I’d never saw that damn film 😉