Public First Program


Shane Elson


email Shane

+61-3-5952 5780

+61-4-1349 7828

Dec 2008 # 4

(Right Click here to download Audio - MP3)

Back to Editorials 2008

Gaza Again

As I sat down to finish off the last of the Christmas fare I switched on the evening news. It was not a pretty sight.

The lead item was the latest genocidal attack by Israel against the civilians of the occupied Gaza strip. The first pictures were of the bombing of the university in Gaza city followed by a montage of shots of ambulances disgorging wounded civilians and other pictures of injured children being carried into hospitals by their distraught parents.

Then the cruncher. The reporter intoned that the 'continued rocket attacks against Israel were creating a climate of fear'. As he said this the picture that flashed on screen was of a burn mark on a road. The point was missed.

The point is, the crude rockets fired by the so called 'terrorists' are virtually ineffective both in their accuracy and their potency. Most fail to explode or fall in unoccupied land. The few that do hit an Israeli town usually do not claim lives. Only two Israeli civilians have been killed so far this year. The low death toll can be attributed to the sophisticated network of bomb shelters and early warning alarms that allow the population, in most cases, to get to shelter long before the rockets arrive.

While any civilian death in what is a full scale war is regrettable, the fact that Israel continues to kill hundreds of innocent Palestinian civilians each year is virtually ignored as the real issue. Mark Regev, the current mouthpiece of the occupiers, continues to run the line that they do all they can to avoid such deaths. He, like many other defenders of the occupation, continue to run the line that it is the Palestinians who are the aggressors. However, with the increasing civilian death toll in Gaza, I suggest that the Israeli army should get a refund on their so called 'smart weapons'.

Meanwhile the extreme right wing in Israel continues it relentless march back to power – if they ever abandoned it. At the same time our mainstream media continues to ignore the protests going on in Israel by its own citizens who are opposed to their nation's ongoing occupation and aggression against the Palestinians.

I ask you, where is the response to this current outrage by the Rudd government? Nowhere to be seen or heard. The current foreign minister, Steven Smith, seems just as mute in this instance as his predecessor, Alexander Downer. While quick to condemn, and rightly so, tyrants such as Robert Mugabe, our government's silence reveals their double standards.

It seems, once more, that the Palestinians are the meat in the sandwich of Israeli and international politics. With an election due on February 10th, the Israeli political scene turns, like clockwork, to a show of force against one of the most vulnerable civilian populations on the planet. Like shooting fish in a barrel, the population density of Gaza means it is impossible for them to shelter adequately or effectively against the random bombing attacks on them.

In the shadowy world of propaganda – sorry, I mean public relations – practitioners must take account of their various audiences both internal and external and craft their messages to suit. In the case of the current massacre of innocent civilians in the Gaza strip, a very important external audience is the incoming US president, Barack Obama and his coterie. As we now know, Obama is reviving the Clinton legacy and this scares many of the Israeli hard-liners because Clinton was the only US President to even come close to a peace deal.

While that peace deal was flawed and very one sided, he was able to, at the least, get the warring parties to agree to a photo opportunity while shaking hands in the White House rose garden. The symbolism was immense and the underlying message was clear … “peace is possible”. Without an enemy, real or perceived, the dynamics of the Israeli interactions with the world would be seriously challenged.

So, as we sit to finish off the Christmas fare and prepare to welcome in the New Year, it is important to remember that the blood of innocents is on our hands just as much as it is on the hands of those who ordered this latest round of genocidal attacks. We cannot escape this fact because we live in a so called democracy in which our leaders are elected, or so we are led to believe, to represent our interests. If our interests are not in protecting the most vulnerable, then the news coming out of Gaza and other places will only continue to worsen.

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