Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Diary - The Irish Times, settlements in the West Bank, and Zionist ideology

Further to my remarks about the Irish Times below, here's an example of its problematic coverage of the Middle East.  Mark Weiss reports on new settlement construction planned in the West Bank ('Reports of Israeli settler homes anger Palestinians', IT, 27/12/13).

A couple of things stand out in Weiss's report.  Firstly, the title: rhetorically, the formulation suggests that Palestinians are objecting to Israelis having homes.  How hard-hearted, one then presumably asks, can these Palestinians be?  Can't people be allowed to have homes like anyone else?  Secondly, and this is a problem that is repeated endlessly in the reportage in the Irish Times by Israeli correspondents or stringers like Weiss or David Horowitz, the context of this planned construction in international and international humanitarian law is never provided.  For the fact is, of course, that under the Geneva Conventions, the transfer to an occupied territory of members of the population of the occupying power is illegal, and therefore, technically, a war crime.  Israeli settlement construction is a war crime.  This is almost never mentioned in the seemingly pellucid pages of the Irish Times.

Thirdly, the context within which the coverage by the Irish Times (and most of the mainstream media) places such developments is the way that announcements of settlement plans or construction play in regard to the Obama-brokered 'peace talks': will the talks be scuppered or not?  Will Israel release prisoners (as agreed as part of the talks), or not?  Will the Palestinians complain at the UN or not?  Will Saeb Erekat appeal to the European Union or not?  The broad point to be made here is that most of this context is fluff, and of very little longer-term importance.  The most that can be said about the current talks is that they turn on modes by which the Palestinian Authority can perform its role as Israel's enforcer in the West Bank, while allowing Israel to get on with its real projects of settlement construction, resource theft, and incremental ethnic cleansing. 

Fourthly, the ideological context in which Israeli policy is formulated is almost never reported in the Irish Times.  This is in marked contrast to the case with much of the Israel press itself.  Here's an especially striking example from Ha'aretz, given the way that Israel has in recent years stridently promoted itself as the one country in the Middle East that is tolerant of gay practice and culture:

Gay Jews have 'higher souls' than gentiles, says deputy minister ...

When will Mark Weiss be reporting on the pronouncements of the Deputy Minister for Religious Services?   I am not holding my breath.

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