Friday, January 9, 2009

Hamas's Media Partners

The following letter was published in the Cape Times today (Jan 2009). A letter from S. Kaye in like vein was also included and an article by the new Israeli Ambassador to South Africa, Steinberg. But the dominant comment in today's C Times - in terms of images, prominence, headlines and wordage - was anti-Israel. This is a reality which cannot be readily changed.

If public demonstrations against Israel mount, it will become necessary for the broader community - and not only Jewish - to publically demonstrate their support for Israel (and for peace and justice). I hope our communnal leadership is preparing themselves for such action.

All this will be found on my blog

Mike Berger

To the Cape Times

I write briefly to correct serious defects in the treatment of the Gaza operation, Cast Lead, by our media. The uncritical approach adopted makes sections of our media partners in the Hamas strategy of using Palestinian civilians as propaganda fodder in its on-going war with Israel.

The facts are well known to everyone. Hamas has deliberately embedded its on-going and extensive military operations deep within its civilian population with three strategic aims in mind:

Firstly, it constrains the response of the Israeli military significantly - contrary to the outrageous claims of some commentators. Israel often takes the militarily costly step of forewarning the civilian population before it takes action. In some instances, Hamas operatives have rushed civilians to the site in order to forstall Israeli action. Not infrequently strikes have been aborted because of such considerations.

When civilian deaths and injuries do inevitably occur, the well-oiled Hamas propaganda machine springs into action to disseminate images, real or faked, together with reports emphasising civilian suffering. The desired outcome is, of course, public damage to Israel’s reputation and enhanced diplomatic pressure on Israel to stop before its objectives have been reached.

Thirdly, of course, Hamas hopes that civilian suffering will be converted into hatred for Israel and not into rejection of its own callous and bankrupt vision. Even here the media plays an important role by focussing attention on Israel rather than on the deliberate instigators of this conflict, Hamas.

Hamas is guilty of war crimes as much through the abuse of its own population as in its total disregard for Israeli civilians. Hamas is solely interested in power and in pursuing its war with Israel irrespective of the cost to its own society. Even if only out of self-interest, Israel only wishes for peace and calm on its borders.

Hamas's brutal disregard for its own population is unmistakeably similar to Mugabe’s actions in Zimbabwe. But contrary to the case of the despot on our border, some sections of our media have become accomplices in the Hamas fiction that Israel is to blame for the Gazan conflict and suffering.

It is about time that this shameful crusade came to an end and that some realism and proportion is applied to the complex Middle East political equation by the media.

Mike Berger

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