Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Happy campers in Gaza? Gaza, through fresh eyes?

The old grey lady, the august dowager of US journalism, 'the New York Times' never ceases to amaze.
Her coverage on Gaza is mixed. She makes allowances for Israel's wars and attack on the peace flotilla's ship the 'Mavi Mamara'.
Now in the Sunday edition dated 13 June 2010, she wants to show a brighter side to the dire existence that Israel's war 'Cast Lead' and unrelenting blockade on land and sea of 3 million Gazans who had the absolute gall in democratically electing a government headed by Hamas in 2007.
With an eyedropper Israel has let in basic supplies, which are never enough, to adequately feed Gazans and allow them to rebuild the Strip's infrastructure which the Israeli 'Tsahal' [Israeli Defence Force] took such joy in wiping out in a 3 week war which ended on the eve of US president Obama's inauguration in January 2008, and the biggest casualty of which was civilians in the hundreds of victims.
Well since Israel has come under global condemnation because of its carefully planned attack on the 7 ships heading to Gaza with much needed supplies, on the open sea, and with malice of forethought to kill to teach the Turks a lesson in trying to run Jerusalem's blockade of Gaza and being critical of Israel's policy towards Gaza, the NYT thought it wise to change the subject.
As a consequence we have 6 photos of smiling Gazans taking the sun or working. Israel's version of a Potemkin Village. Which all goes to shoot a hole in the foreign propaganda that Palestinians do not laugh and have a good time for themselves or that they carry as before the war.
Yet, the eye would be hard pressed to see the destruction and devastationd and the lack of rebuilding since the Israeli collective punishment meted out on Gaza.
It doesn't take much to figure out why. Such photos would cast the blame on Israel's shoulders where it rightfully belongs.
So instead we read the NYT's man in Israel Ethan Bonner and the photos of an Israaeli photographer Orlinsky providing the proof that through the cleansed lens of a camera, we've happy campers in Gaza. Surely, they are as eyeless in Gaza to slip into an Aldous Huxley title!
Bonner is an American by birth but has lived in Israel for donkey's years. In fact, it has recently come to light his son is in the 'Tsahal' [IDF] doing his military services. Can he maintain his objectivity? Maybe yes, maybe no. How would have he reacted had his son been one of the commandos that attacked in the dead of night the 'Mavi Mamara'? [When questions of his objectivity came up in Clark Hoyt's 'The Public Editor' contribution which appears in every issue of the Sunday NYT's 'Week in Review' section, the NYT's executive editor defended Bonner's ability to view both sides of the Palestinian Israeli divide. But can he? (An aside the 'Public Editor' feature is independent of the 'Times' editorial control, and usually takes it to task for its shortcomings, large or small).]
So how happy a camper is the average Gazan? Probably not very. But a free press will and its readers will never know, owing to Israel's heavy censorship.

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