Friday, August 08, 2014

Take a look at yourself, world media

Boaz Bismuth

The cease-fire between Israel and Hamas has allowed the international media to go back to addressing, among other things, the fighting in Ukraine (remember that?) and the Ebola virus, which is much more worrying than the virus known as "Hamas." The city of Donetsk in the eastern Ukraine has taken the place of Gaza in the headlines of European newspapers.
For some reason, the evacuation on Wednesday and Thursday of tens of thousands of Christians from their homes as the radical Sunni Islamic State takes over extensive areas in northern Iraq and Christian cities still hasn't been properly covered by the European media (unlike the American media), which was very -- I mean, very -- worried about Gaza. Which by yesterday had nearly been forgotten.
Is it because there are no European journalists in northern Iraq? Or maybe because the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, which cares only for Palestinians, isn't active there? Either way, the Islamic State, which is much more radical than al-Qaida (is that even possible?), continues about its business without too many headlines after taking over Kirkuk, Iraq's most Christian city (it was home to 50,000 Iraqi Christians).

It seems like the international media has thus far perceived members of the Islamic State as space aliens. Hamas, on the other hand, are seen as freedom fighters working to remove the blockade for the good of the people of Gaza. Unlike the Islamic State people, Hamas operatives are seen as righteous. Try and explain that they're one and the same.
U.S. President Barack Obama announced on Thursday that the U.S. was looking into the possibility of bombing Iraq. Nothing more was needed for the American media to devote its top headlines to what is happening in Iraq.
At any rate, the administration is sort of responsible for what is taking place in Iraq today: the invasion (Bush) and the withdrawal (Obama). We mentioned the American airstrikes? This is doubtless much less dangerous than a ground operation, and between us, will anyone demand investigative committees or a special session of the U.N. General Assembly if and when, heaven forbid, innocent Iraqi civilians are killed in those same airstrikes?
"Leave, convert, or die" was the top headline on the Fox News website. The readers, obviously, were shocked to discover just how hostile the radical Sunni Islamic State is to other religions. For some reason, no one this past month has thought to look into how Hamas sees non-Muslims. "Leave, convert, or die"… think for a moment how much Hamas would like to see a headline like that here. The world was busier removing the blockade than it was perusing the group's charter. Might there be a connection?
Obviously, France also bears some responsibility for what's happening in the Middle East. Do you remember the Sykes-Picot Agreement? Today it's collapsing and France is seeing itself offering asylum to the Christians of the Orient. On Thursday, the government called a special session of the U.N. General Assembly to discuss the situation in Iraq. The Islamic state is "in" -- Hamas is "out."
How quickly the story dies
In general, it's pretty amazing to see how quickly a story can die. You should see how far down on the CNN website Gaza has dropped. "Hamas: We are ready to renew the fighting," one of the more modest headlines read. No one is moved by Hamas' threats to resume shooting on Friday morning if the blockade is not removed from Gaza. The cease-fire talks in Cairo aren't even mentioned, lest the readers/watchers/listeners doze off.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon managed on Wednesday to anger officials in Jerusalem when, even before the Human Rights Council investigative committee began its work looking into the Gaza war and civilian casualties, he laid the blame on Israel for attacks on U.N. facilities in Gaza and said they should stand trial. There is no question that the U.N. under Ban is having trouble handling the troubles of the world, and it's good that there is Gaza -- and Israel -- for the U.N. to flex its muscles over in New York.
But recent weeks have merely shown how helpless the U.N. and the international community are in solving crises: Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, and Gaza have not helped the organization's image. The various conflicts around the world just prove how weak it is.
The U.N. undoubtedly has a problem. The first clause of the U.N. Charter calls upon members to solve conflicts through peaceful means and refrain from threats and use of force to gain territory or power. Take note about just how relevant it is today.
And one favor from Israelis traveling abroad this weekend: If you happen to run into "international opinion," ask it what exactly the "international community" is these days and where it's headed. Because between us, it looks like the international community is in real trouble, and before it examines us, it should take a look at itself.

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