US Media Losing Control of the Middle East Narrative?
Citizen journalists armed with ubiquitous smartphones and access to social media platforms have challenged the western media reporting of the latest Israeli brutal assault on Gaza. While the established western media outfits have stuck to "Israel's right to defend itself" narrative, this new breed of young journalists has posted unfiltered images and videos of the Israeli war crimes against Palestinians. Some of these powerful posts have gone viral with many young people, including Jews, sharing them broadly on social media. People, particularly Americans, who share these posts see the Palestinian struggle as a civil rights struggle not unlike the recent Black Lives Matter movement in America.
|Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on CNN|
The western media, particularly the mainstream American media, are quick to accuse Israel's critics of being anti-semitic, a familiar tactic to distract from the Israeli crimes against humanity. A recent example is the CNN anchor Bianna Golodryga who labelled Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi's criticism of western media as anti-semitic, a charge that even President Jimmy Carter could not escape when he criticized Israel's Apartheid. Here's what Mr. Qureshi told the CNN anchor:
“Israel is losing out (in spite of their) deep pockets, they are losing the media war despite their connections.. ..Well they are very influential people. I mean, they control media.....point is they have a lot of influence, and they get a lot of coverage. Now what has balanced that is the citizen journalist who has been reporting, sharing video clips and that has jolted people and that has woken up people, and people who were sitting on the fence are today speaking up.”
Golodryga interjected and said, “I would call that an antisemitic remark". I am not sure if Qureshi knows but it seems to me that phrases like "control media" and "deep pockets" hit close to home for Golodryga. She and her husband Peter Orszag are both Jewish. Golodryga is an influential media person while Orszag is an investment banking executive on Wall Street.
The power of Jews in American media and finance is undeniable. Goldman Sachs is the most influential investment bank in the United States. It was founded by Jews in the nineteenth century. Most of its partners since then, almost all of its leaders, and its current CEO (Lloyd Blankfein) are Jews. Similarly, most of the top media executives and best-known US journalists are Jews.
The role of money and media is particularly important for domestic politics in the United States. What Mr. Qureshi said is especially true of the powerful Israel lobby group American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) that lobbies for Israeli interests in the United States. AIPAC is flush with cash contributed by rich American Jews. AIPAC has lots of friends in mainstream US media.
Western media not only fail to accurately report current events in Palestine but they also do not contextualize such events. For example, the current crisis in the region started with attempts by some Israeli Jews to steal Palestinian homes in Jerusalem. A viral video shared on social media illustrates what is happening there. It shows a young Palestinian woman in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah saying to a Jewish man named Yakov, “You are stealing my house!” “If I don’t steal it, someone else will steal it,” he responds.
Popular comedian John Oliver has called out the western media for promoting "both sides" narrative in the Middle East. Here's what he said:
“There’s a real tendency, particularly in America, to ‘both sides’ this situation, and I’m not saying that there aren’t some areas where that’s warranted. But it’s important to recognize there are also areas where it’s simply not...Both sides are firing rockets, but one side has one of the most advanced militaries in the world. Both sides are suffering heartbreaking casualties, but one side is suffering them exponentially.... Falling back on, convenient sanitized terms like ‘real estate disputes’ and ‘airstrikes on militants’ feels a little disingenuous when what you’re describing is forcing people from the homes they’ve lived in for decades and killing civilians, and children...And again, none of this frees Hamas from responsibility. But Hamas doesn’t represent all Palestinians just as what Israel is doing right now doesn’t represent all Israelis, or indeed Jewish people...Lots is complicated here, but some things are pretty simple...One side is suffering much more.”