Giving thanks for alternative media

Making sense of the situation in Gaza is difficult. Network news and the major print media virtually always support, and report, the pro-Israeli point-of-view. Alternative media outlets report the pro-Palestinian arguments, such as when Democracy Now! interviewed Phyllis Bennis last night:

History can be determined by when you start the clock. If we start the clock the way most of the U.S. press now is, which is a change, now saying that this escalation began when Israel assassinated a Hamas leader on November 14, that is one time line. The Israeli position is, well, we did it because they fired — the Palestinians fired a rocket at an Israeli Jeep. Well, why did that happen? That happened because a few hours before there had been that firing on an Israeli military Jeep and a patrol, there had been the killing of a 13-year-old child in Gaza who was playing soccer. Two days before that, there had been the assassination of a young man walking in the no walk area, the no go zone near the border, where Israelis say, we told him, we called out to him not to go there and he did not listen.

It turns out this was a mentally disabled man who maybe didn’t hear, maybe didn’t understand, continued to walk and was shot dead. We could start the clock then. But, at the end of the day, we can look back four years, we can look back to the end of Cast Lead and say, since Cast Lead, 271 Palestinians, according to the Israeli human rights organization B’tselem, have been assassinated by Israeli air strikes, by drones, by planes, by helicopters. 271 Palestinians in Gaza killed by Israelis, zero Israelis killed by Palestinian rockets.

Even the alternative voices seem to play into the notion that one side is simply defending itself while the other is clearly the aggressor. What seems clear to me is that a lot of innocent people — both sides — have been set against each other as a result of a long geopolitical skirmish.  As long as Middle Eastern oil reserves are valuable to the industrialized world, the major powers will provide sufficient arms to each side to keep the conflict going.

In, Wrong side of the fence, Aeon Magazine reports that even more innocents are entering the cauldron:

Israel amalgamated its concerns with these different strands of disappearance into the embedded logic of a frontier state, seen as perpetually clinging on for dear life in a region filled with hostility. In this scenario, purity is a component of survival: if the neighbours are deadly, then there must be clear lines of demarcation; the in-group and the out-group; the acceptable types, and the dangerous, unacceptable types. Israel is like a constantly monitored filing system, sifting carefully distinct categories. It is done in the name of security. There can be no mixing, no blurring; and there is, regrettably, no choice in the matter, or so the prevailing narrative goes, because the country’s very survival is at stake.

The treatment of African refugees in south Tel Aviv is a present and visceral testimony to this equation. But its wider logic has spawned a comprehensive system, a landscape of purity, fenced by borders and boundaries, that features colour-coded ID cards and car number plates; A-road highways and B-grade bypasses; staggered levels of residency and exclusion. It’s an elaborate, all-encompassing system, so entrenched that it is at once overwhelming and invisible: part of the national DNA — but barely a part of the conversation.

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