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Dec 08 2011

Pandering to Israel by politicians and the media

If there is one thing that exceeds the absurd extravagance with which American politicians declare their love for Jesus, it is how they describe their love for Israel. It seems like no level of pandering is enough. Just yesterday, six of the Republican candidates attended a forum of the American Jewish Coalition and fell over themselves trying to outdo each other in supporting the most extreme policies of Israel and criticizing president Obama for not doing enough, even though Obama has been as obsequious in appeasing the Israel lobby as any previous president. Ron Paul was not invited to this gathering because he alone has questioned America’s massive subsidizing of Israel’s economy and unquestioned support for its dangerous policies in the Middle East.

The pandering to Israel does not stop with politicians either. The mainstream media is also wary of saying anything that could be construed as anything other than whole-hearted support for Israel. The level of self-censorship in the Western media when it comes to Israel is quite extraordinary. For example, at a recent summit meeting, an open microphone picked up the following bit of dialogue:

French president Nicholas Sarkozy: “I can’t stand him [Netanyahu] any more, he’s a liar.”
US president Barack Obama: “You may be sick of him, but me, I have to deal with him every day,”

Uri Avnery says that this exchange followed a report that German chancellor Angela Merkel had told her cabinet that “every word that leaves Netanyahu’s mouth is a lie.”

The dialogue was broadcast live to a group of senior French media people, because somebody forgot to turn the microphone off. A piece of luck of the kind that journalists dream about.

Yet not one of the journalists in the hall published a word about it. They kept it to themselves and only told it to their colleagues, who told it to their friends, one of whom told it to a blogger, who published it.

Why? Because the senior journalists who were present are friends and confidants of the people in power. That’s how they get their scoops. The price is suppressing any news that might hurt or embarrass their sponsors. This means in practice that they become lackeys of the people in power – betraying their elementary democratic duty as servants of the public.

I know this from experience. As an editor of a news magazine, I saw it as my duty (and pleasure) to break these conspiracies of silence. Actually, many of our best scoops were given to us by colleagues from other publications who could not use them themselves for the same reason.

Luckily, with the internet now everywhere, it has become almost impossible to suppress news. Blessed be the online Gods.

You would think that the news that the heads of three major economic powers so utterly despise the head of a country they publicly support unconditionally would be big news and the leaders would be repeatedly asked about this. But this news item lasted just a couple of days in the American media, disappearing as fast as it appeared.

But as Avnery said, the Sakozy-Obama exchange might not have made it into the media at all if not for bloggers on the internet, so we should at least be grateful for that.

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