by Roy Greenslade in the Guardian 08/08/2014 (with my thoughts at the bottom)
The Times is under attack for refusing to run an advert about the conflict in Gaza. The paper is accused of being part of a British media “infamously skewed against Israel.”
The ad is a statement, written jointly by Elie Wiesel, the Nobel prize-winning author, and Shmuley Boteach, an outspoken American-born Orthodox rabbi.
It calls on President Obama and other political leaders across the world “to condemn Hamas’s use of children as human shields”, which amounts to “child sacrifice”.
The advert has been carried in five US newspapers, including the New York Times, Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, which is published by News Corporation, the owner of The Times. The Guardianhas agreed to run the advert on Monday.
The New York Observer, which also ran the ad, reports that a Times representative wrote to the agency that sought to place the advert to say that “the opinion being expressed is too strong and too forcefully made and will cause concern amongst a significant number of Times readers.”
The ad was paid for by an organisation called This World: The Values Network, which was founded by Boteach. He responded by telling the Observer:
“At a time when Israel is fighting for its very existence against the genocidal terrorists of Hamas, the British media, already infamously skewed against Israel, refuses a paid ad that every major American outlet… was proud to run as a full page ad.”
He described Wiesel as “one of the most respected human beings alive” and “the living face of the holocaust.” He said: “I am shocked that the Times would engage in censorship of the worst kind to cater to the bigotry [of Hamas]”.
Shmuley said his offer to the Times to revise the advertisement was dismissed. The agency was told that the decision not to accept ad was not open to negotiation.
A Times spokeswoman told the Guardian: “We reserve the right to reject advertisements.”
Referring to the Guardian’s decision to run the advert, the Observer quoted an unidentified source “with knowledge of the Values Network’s ad-buying practices” as saying:
“The Guardian may be left wing but they obviously believe in free speech and allowing their readers to hear the voice of a Nobel laureate about a very important issue.”
But the Guardian’s acceptance of an advert does not mean, of course, that it endorses the views and claims made within it.
I find myself torn here – Hamas clearly are terrorists but it is a position they feel they have been driven to by many years of ill treatment by their neighbours – when they attack first world country Israel with their third world ‘rockets’ in their mind it is an act of rebellion against the oppressor – part of an Intefada that has been going on for many years
Israel and its media allies have pushed the idea that by doing so they are deliberately putting their citizens in harms way – something that is probably inevitable when a small crowded country comes under military fire however modern the weaponry. But that’s the point about terrorists – they cannot see any other way to achieve their ends. Simply to make Gaza a decent place to live in probably the least they would accept and it is something Israel clearly is not in the mood to allow.
Lets put it this way – if the bully next door came over and broke both your legs what would you do? If there was no one to stand up for you and no one to investigate or prosecute can you see how you or someone in your family might soon end up outside his gate with a Molotov cocktail in your hand? That’s exactly how terrorists are made.
By launching the rockets against Israel so soon after the horrifying bombardment Hamas are metaphorically saying ‘Fuck you’ to Israel. What is the Gun nuts in the US are so fond of saying ‘ You can have my gun – when you take it from my cold dead hand’. For Hamas Israel is only taking their country literally over their dead bodies.
The reality is that this is a situation which Israel has had the major role in creating and doesn’t have the political will to resolve. Without America’s support it would probably have to face it and sort things out, but as long as the US is happy to supply them and defend them and treat them like a favoured child who can do no wrong they don’t have to – and the violence continues.
The underlying story – of an oppressed people rising up against an overbearing neighbour they have little chance of defeating sound familiar – I’m sure I have seen that movie – and I’m pretty sure it was an American one.
Its sort of story where Americans would normally find it easy take the side with underdog – skillful manipulation of the media has been needed to make sure that doesn’t happen – some of which I really find hard to credit. Are they really saying;
“Its all your fault – by refusing to settle for the meager crumbs we allow you, you are going to push us into exploding military ordnance in your children’s school – again”
..is a viable political opinion or suitable basis for international diplomacy – and are we really falling for it? Is this a new world high for Victim Blaming?
Israel would not be able to behave in this way without this manipulation and that makes the media as responsible for 2000 deaths as anyone else in this sorry mess.
On the other hand I’m a (small L) liberal and believe in a free press – if were the editor of Guardian and some asked me whether to publish this ad I’d probably have to say yes.
As I said – Torn!