Taken in by the Hoopla?

The Israeli elections took place 24 days after a vicious Israeli attack on Gaza; it took place two days after the latest Israeli bombing of the Gaza-Egypt border. Yet, if one were watching the TV news coverage of the elections or the coverage of the mainstream press, one would not know that the dust has barely settled on Gaza. One would almost think that the elections were taking place in some far away country that wasn’t responsible for dropping the bombs and the war crimes. The reason for the exclusive “politics as a horse race” coverage is that it is part of the propaganda campaign surrounding the war. No sooner did the war end, the coverage switched to the inauguration of the US president; the economic crisis was equally competing for the headlines. And then the Israeli elections appeared full with flag-waving and blue-pom-pom shaking supporters, an image that reinforced the propaganda message of “Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East”. Never mind that several political parties representing the Palestinian citizens of Israel were banned by the right-wing’s mean-spirited ploys. Never mind the tilt towards fascism with a religious twist – that was not part of the message. Avigdor Lieberman is a more vicious fascist than Jorg Haider, yet while the election of the latter led to a boycott of the Austrian government, the “king-maker” role of Lieberman barely registers in the TV news.

The coverage by Donald MacIntyre, the Independent’s Jerusalem correspondent, epitomizes this type of coverage. He entered Gaza as soon as the Israelis stopped the attack, and he must have seen the devastation and the human misery. However, his reportage from Gaza was insipid and shallow, and within a few days he was back in Jerusalem to cover the election! One would expect that MacIntyre’s experience in Gaza would inform his portrayal of the Israeli elections, but it is clear that he only portrayed the elections as a “horse race”. The fascist candidates were merely “right wing”; Tzipi Livni a “moderate”; the revelation that Avigdor Lieberman was a follower of Meir Kahane didn’t register… and so on.

But we also know that some journalists have stated that it will be increasingly difficult to place an article about Israel-the Palestinians in the coming weeks. According to these sources, the American public, and most probably “western” publics, are exhausted of coverage Israel-the Palestinians, and that soon editors will respect this “fatigue” by moving the media spotlight to another issue. Soon MacIntyre and the “western media” rotten gang will resume their holidays that were so rudely interrupted by the Israeli attack on Gaza.

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