Sunday, 17 August 2014


The Western media: Panoptica of veracity or jittery claymation?

by Daniel Spaulding

With yet another bout of violence erupting between the Israelis and Palestinians in Gaza the world is once again being subjected to massive amounts of propaganda, political rhetoric, and sentimental pleading by each side in a perpetual effort to rally popular opinion to their cause. More often than not the propaganda from both sides reaches hysterical and preposterous proportions.

The Israeli supporters constantly wail about the “existential threat” of the Arabs who they claim wish to drive them into the Mediterranean Sea and bring about a “second Holocaust”. To believe otherwise, according to many of Israel’s supporters, is to be a nasty anti-Semite.

For their part the Palestinians seek to mirror such rhetoric, proclaiming themselves the victims of genocide.

The fact of the matter is that Hamas, while dangerous and unsavory, is not in any position to destroy Israel, no matter how many primitive rockets they fire. Nor is there some wave of Arabs to pour across the border into Israel and finish Hitler’s work. Israel’s neighbors Egypt and Jordan have peace agreements with Israel. As for Syria, even before it was ripped apart by a civil war helped along by the West, it was not capable of any sort of attack on Israel.

A menorah of smoke plumes.
The Palestinians’ charge of genocide doesn’t hold water either. Certainly they suffer much brutality at the hands of the Israelis, and Israel, despite its protests to the contrary, does a lot of wanton killing of civilians in Gaza, but there is certainly no genocide underway. Gaza has one of the highest birthrates in the world and the Israelis have been quite unwilling to restore their occupation of the Gaza Strip.

None of this has stopped Israel’s diehard supporters among America’s political establishment and the Christian Zionist movement and the pro-Palestinian left in Europe and North America from eagerly engaging in this trumped up rhetoric. The sad fact is that while the charges of existential threats and genocide are patently false in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, they are all too true when applied to religious minorities in another Middle Eastern country: Iraq.

Recent months have seen the rise of a vicious and fanatical al-Qaeda spin-off, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which now claims the mantle of the long defunct Muslim caliphate for itself.

Along with seizing large portions of territory in central Iraq and eastern Syria and massacring thousands of Iraqi policemen, it has made a target out of the assorted non-Muslim religious groups that have inhabited the region since ancient, pre-Islamic times. The Assyrian Christians and Yazidis (a syncretic and quasi-pagan sect) have been taking the brunt of the self-proclaimed caliphate’s murderous undertaking. ISIS practices a very draconian form of Islamic law that mandates that non-Muslims be offered three choices: conversion to Islam, payment of the jizyah (a tax for non-Muslims), or death.

To prove they mean business the Muslim hoards of ISIS have seized control of churches in the city of Mosul, burnt them, bombed sacred shrines, kidnapped Christian and Yazidi women and children and sold them into slavery and/ or raped them.

ISIS: currently auditioning for the role of Western bogeyman

The Christian and Yazidi communities had already been hit hard during the American invasion in 2003 and its messy aftermath. Formerly numbering several millions before 2003, have seen their numbers drop by as much as two-thirds as they flee the violence to neighboring Arab countries, Europe, and North America. If ISIS continues unchecked the genocide of non-Muslims will continue uninterrupted. In such an event, the likelihood of their complete disappearance from their ancient homeland would be all but certain.

Unlike Israel and the Palestinians, the Assyrian Christians and the Yazidis have had little in the way of foreign backers or sympathizers. They are for all intents and purposes on their own and left to face the horrific possibility of a very real existential threat.

Genocide, it seems, is rather like the tree that falls in the forest, raising questions of whether it is heard or not—and exists or not. The 18th-century Anglo-Irish philosopher George Berkeley solved this conundrum of "subjective idealism" by saying that all things existed through their perception by an omniscient God. In the modern world, 24-hour rolling news media has taken on this role as the all-seeing eye and the all-hearing ear, determining what exists in the global consciousness of the West and what does not. But it is god with one eye blind and one ear deaf, who hears sighs as screams and screams as sighs, and sees only what it wants.

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