Tuesday, February 12, 2013


On December 24, 2012 CBC published the following article:


        "Gaza militants accused of violating laws of war"

It is a short article, but it must have been deemed important and newsworthy because it was one of only 16 articles published online on that day. I do not condone the Gaza militants bombing of populated areas and I support the good work of Human Rights Watch in accusing them of wrongdoing. However I have several problems with this article:

1) Why did CBC highlight this news and not other stories? Gaza rockets are an old story, but at the same time that the Human Rights Watch report came out, something very new (and thus even more newsworthy) was also announced. The ruling party of South Africa, the African National Congress, formally voted to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. The BDS campaign has been adopted by all major Palestinian organizations as a NON-VIOLENT way to resist Israeli oppression, and ethnic cleansing. The ANC endorsement of this campaign is the first by a major country (one of the BRICS), and was a great victory for advocates of non-violent resistance. However a victory for Palestinian resistance is a potential obstacle to Israeli colonialism. We have to wonder why CBC chose to ignore this real news, that offers hope for peaceful progress, with this article that is likely to support continuing hostilities.

2) Vocabulary choice. The phrase; "the laws of war" – I have difficulty with describing the violent conflict between Israel and Gaza as "war". The balance of
forces is so skewed that Israel's actions are more properly described as massacres and Gaza's as futile gestures. Israel has one of the world's most powerful military establishments, while Gaza is virtually unarmed (except for those ineffective rockets) and does not have even 1/1000th the military power of Israel. If a 250-pound, 6 foot six, heavily-armed combat-hardened soldier is punching a skinny 10 year-old unarmed child, would you call that a "fight", or just an "abuse". And if the child, in desperation, kicks the marine in the genitals, would you loudly accuse the child of "dirty fighting"? By the same token, loudly accusing Gaza of not obeying the "laws of war" seems just a bit much in the absence of one thousand times more criticism of Israel.

3) Notice the use of language and strategic omissions in the article:

"The rocket attacks killed three Israeli civilians and wounded dozens. Israeli assaults killed 169 Palestinians."

It says "three Israeli civilians" were killed, not just "three Israelis" But it says "169 Palestinians" were killed, without mentioning that the majority of them were civilians, and dozens of them were children. Also there is mention of dozens of Israeli civilians being wounded, but no mention of the thousand Palestinian civilians that were wounded. Could this fuzzy use of language be unintentional? I doubt it. Also it describes Gaza actions as "rocket attacks", but Israeli actions only as "assaults". What are "assaults"; a punch in the nose? In fact, the Israelis also killed Palestinians (in a ratio of 50 Palestinians for each Israeli killed) with rocket attacks, so why doesn't CBC say so?

4) Omission of relevant contextual information. In the article Human Rights Watch declared unequivocally that; "There is simply no legal justification for launching rockets at populated areas." Since this was precisely what Israel was doing, launching rocket attacks on populated areas, it seems that somewhere in the article it might have been mentioned that Israel was guilty of the same war crimes as the Gaza militants, but on a much greater scale.

Personally I believe that rocket attacks on populated areas are reprehensible. However I recognize that the actions of the Gaza militants were the actions of the weak and the poor, while Israeli actions were the actions of the strong and the rich. Both of them were reprehensible, but the strong and rich are by far the worse, and deserve the lion's share of censure, because they had so many more options and

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