‘Genocide Enablers’: Gaza And The Corporate Media

Residents inspect a damaged vehicle carrying Western employees after an Israeli attack in Deir al-Balah, Gaza on April 02, 2024 [Ali Jadallah – Anadolu Agency]

A key function of the state-corporate media is to deny reality. They do supply news. But it is no accident that they supply news of a type that covers up the crimes of elite power.

However, the appalling violence and destruction being inflicted in Gaza by Israel are simply too great to conceal.  We may well be living through an unprecedented era where the vast crimes of the West, and the complicity of major news organisations, have never been more exposed to the public.

Professor Jeffrey Sachs, the US economist and Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, said in a recent interview:

‘We are seeing a massacre in front of our eyes—it is absolutely inhumane; it is absolutely war crimes; it is arguably, I personally think, likely genocidal according to the legal standards of the 1948 Genocide Convention.’

He continued:

‘We haven’t had genocides captured by video feed day by day.

‘We have IDF forces standing with their thumbs up as they blow up universities, mosques, hospitals, and apartment buildings—it’s unbelievable. We have members of the Israeli cabinet preaching hate.

‘We’ve seen these religious nationalist extremist rabbis talk about killing all the people in Gaza. “And do you mean the children?” the Rabbi is asked. “Yes, the children. They can grow up to be terrorists.”’

The indescribable horror of Israel’s genocide in Gaza has elicited little more than anguished hand-wringing from Western leaders who have continued to send weapons to the apartheid state.

Sachs made the point that matters which is so often ignored or glossed over by ‘responsible’ media, notably BBC News:

‘It could end by the United States government saying, “We are not providing the munitions for slaughter, period.”’ That would end it. Israel cannot do this one day without the United States.’

Likewise, the daily Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom, the country’s most widely distributed newspaper, recently carried a key quote from its lead correspondent [cited in an interview with former Israeli negotiator Daniel Levy at around 6 mins : 25 secs] that:

‘Israel could not continue this war were it not for US military support.’

Indeed, a clear-cut historical example of US leverage over Israel was provided by Trita Parsi of the Quincy Institute, an American think tank specialising in US foreign policy:

‘In 1982, President Ronald Regan was “disgusted” by Israeli bombardment of Lebanon. He stopped the transfer of cluster munitions to Israel and told Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin in a phone call that “this is a holocaust.” Reagan demanded that Israel withdraw its troops from Lebanon. Begin caved. Twenty minutes after their phone call, Begin ordered a halt on attacks.’

Five British prime ministers have stopped arms to Israel in the past, including Margaret Thatcher when Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, and Tony Blair who stopped the export of UK weapons that could be used to suppress Palestinians during the Second Intifada in 2002. But not Rishi Sunak, so far, in 2024.

‘Nothing Left To Assault’

Australian writer Caitlin Johnstone wrote this week:

‘Israel has ended its assault on the al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza, because there is nothing left to assault. The facility — the largest medical complex in Gaza where hundreds of civilians had been sheltering — is now an empty, unusable, burnt-out husk. Witnesses report hundreds of corpses in and around the complex, with video footage showing human body parts protruding from the earth and bodies with zip ties on their wrists.’

British Palestinian reconstructive surgeon Ghassan Abu-Sittah, who spent over a month treating patients at Al-Shifa and Al-Ahli Baptist hospitals in Gaza, told Amy Goodman in a Democracy Now! interview:

‘I blame the Western journalists, who perpetuated the narrative that militarized the [Al-Shifa] hospital as a justifiable and an acceptable target to the Israelis. These genocide enablers, these Western journalists, from the very beginning, peddled these stories that the Israelis were feeding them about Shifa being on top of this massive complex of a command-and-control center. And their job was to enable the genocide to take place. And the genocide can only take place if the health system is destroyed.’

Dr Abu-Sittah paid tribute to Dr. Ahmad Maqadmeh, a fellow surgeon who was killed by Israeli forces at Al-Shifa alongside his mother:

‘And so, they have the blood of my friend — the blood of Ahmad Maqadmeh is on the hands of the CNN journalists and the BBC journalists and the ITV journalists, who, from the very beginning, were peddling this narrative.’

These news organisations, and others, have routinely downplayed Israeli atrocities by serially publishing deceptive headlines that mask Israel’s responsibility. For example, when seven aid workers, three of them British, were killed in an Israeli drone attack this week, targeted in three separate strikes along a supposed ‘approved’ Israeli route, the New York Times (NYT) headline was:

‘Founder of World Central Kitchen says several workers killed in Gaza airstrike’

The word ‘Israel’ was glaringly absent from the NYT headline. Middle East historian Assal Rad said:

‘Covering up Israel’s crimes enables them to commit more, name the attacker.’

If something similar had happened in Ukraine, the headline would have prominently featured the words ‘Russia’ and ‘Putin’.   

Similarly, the NYT last month shielded Israel with the headline:

‘Deaths of Gazans desperate for food prompt fresh call for ceasefire’.

The phrase ‘Israeli massacre of Gazans’ was missing from the headline.

Rad pointed out yet another egregious example: an Economist article titled, ‘Gaza could face a famine by May’:

‘An entire Economist article on famine in Gaza doesn’t say the word “Israel” once. Not even when describing damage to farmland and water facilities or severely restricted aid deliveries.

‘Saying *who* is destroying the farmland and restricting aid seems like basic info to include.’

Presumably stung by public exposure and criticism, the Economist later updated its piece to include mention of Israel…by including the propaganda claim: ‘Israel insists it is not obstructing aid lorries.’ Days later, this lie – because that is simply what it is – was highlighted by the Israeli murder of the seven aid workers from World Central Kitchen. 

Craig Mokhiber, a former senior UN official in New York who resigned last year over Israel’s genocide in Gaza, tweeted:

‘The murder of @WCKitchen staff is only the latest.  The genocidal Israeli regime has sealed the border & destroyed crops, wells, bakeries & food stores, murdered 200 aid workers, targeted security for aid, blocked aid trucks & massacred starving people lined up for aid. #genocide’

A Guardian website headline declared:

‘Israeli military investigating after foreign aid workers killed in Gaza airstrike’.

As former UK diplomat Craig Murray noted:

‘Beyond satire from @Guardian. Who killed them?

‘The Israeli military are the good guys apparently, investigating it.’

Chris Doyle, Director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding, observed:

‘Israel makes allegations against UNRWA but provides zero evidence. What happens? UK suspends funding pending investigation Israel carries out three strikes against known aid worker vehicles. What happens? UK says – Israel please investigate yourself, and we’ll still sell you arms’

It is clear that Israel’s destruction of Gaza’s healthcare system, and Israel’s starvation of Gazans, are deliberate. Francesca Albanese, the UN Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territories said via X (formerly Twitter):

‘Knowing how Israel operates, my assessment is that Israeli forces intentionally killed #WCK workers so that donors would pull out & civilians in Gaza could continue to be starved quietly. Israel knows Western countries & most Arab countries won’t move a finger for the Palestinians.’

Israel’s intention, made clear in multiple public statements, is to get rid of Palestinians from Gaza and to impose Israeli sovereignty ‘from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea’.

It is significant that even establishment-friendly figures on prominent platforms are finally speaking out. Richard Madeley of ITV’s Good Morning Britain, clearly appalled by Israel’s killing of seven aid workers, described it as an ‘execution’ while Nick Ferrari of LBC called for the suspension of UK arms sales to Israel, adding:

‘It could’ve been our missiles that killed them.’

One could rightly argue that such outrage is long overdue. At the time of writing, the death toll in Gaza is 33,000, including more than 13,000 children. There is even overwhelming evidence that Palestinian children have been deliberately targeted by Israeli snipers in Gaza. In a dramatic front-page spread under the stark headline, ‘Enough’, the Independent loudly declared:

‘It may seem wrong that, after more than 30,000 Palestinians in Gaza have perished, it took the deaths of just seven international aid workers to stir Western governments into a sense of outrage, but that is the reality.’

‘It may seem wrong’? It is wrong. It is damning evidence that Palestinian lives are deemed by those in power to be less valuable than the lives of Westerners. But it is right that so many are now saying, ‘Enough’, regardless of the motivation.

‘Not A Normal War’

Dr Fozia Alvi, a Canadian physician who founded the US-based charity Humanity Auxilium, left Gaza in the third week of February as Israeli forces were threatening a ground assault against Rafah. She said:

‘This is not a normal war. The war in Ukraine has killed 500 kids in two years and the war in Gaza has killed over 10,000 in less than five months. We have seen wars before but this is something that is a dark stain on our shared humanity.’

Claudia Webbe, the independent MP for Leicester East, summarised where we are:

‘Israel is out of control.

‘Israel is deliberately killing International aid workers. It has now passed a law to ban journalists.

‘Israel is killing Palestinians in Gaza. Murder and genocide in plain sight. They don’t want you to know the truth. Our political leaders are complicit’

But the complicit role of the media also needs to be highlighted. Des Freedman, a professor of media and communications at Goldsmiths, University of London, believes that:

 ‘We need journalism that is committed to accurate and uncompromising investigation and not a spurious “impartiality” that hides brutal facts of occupation and genocide.’

Freedman noted that the BBC, along with other major news outlets, largely ignored growing claims of Israeli genocide until the South African government brought evidence to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in January 2024. The ICJ then found that there was a ‘plausible’ case that genocide was taking place. 

Freedman continued:

‘Since then, references to genocide on broadcasters’ ‘X’ (formerly Twitter) feeds – a sign of their editorial priorities – have virtually disappeared. While there are 54 mentions of genocide in Al Jazeera’s feed since 1 February, there is not a single one in the feeds of @BBCNews, @BBCWorld or @Channel4News.’

The BBC actually made the rare concession of a ‘mistake’ in their live coverage of the ICJ genocide case against Israel. BBC editorial policy director David Jordan made the admission to MPs after BBC editors had chosen to show Israel’s defence against genocide charges in full, while only showing clips of South Africa’s case arguing Israel is committing genocide.

Despite Jordan’s denial, the unequal coverage was indicative of serious BBC bias on Israel and Palestine, as has been demonstrated over many years by the Glasgow University Media Group, for example, and by a recent report from the Centre for Media Monitoring.

One glaring aspect of the crisis in what passes for ‘democracy’ in this country is that there is no real party of opposition in Westminster. Labour under Sir Keir Starmer has done its best to divest itself of anything that smacks of socialism, cleaving as closely as possible to the establishment, and not daring to ruffle the feathers of the billionaire-owned press. 

Peter Oborne, former Telegraph chief political writer, observed recently that:

‘From the suffragettes to Gandhi, those who challenged the British state and were labelled extremists ended up being vindicated. The pro-Palestine protesters will be too.’

He warned that the real extremists are those running the country or who wish to do so:

‘I am coming to believe that the real extremists can be found in Downing Street, the Conservative Party, and in Starmer’s Labour Party.’

In a scathing column explaining why he was rescinding his Labour party membership, Owen Jones wrote:

The assault on Gaza, the great crime of our age, adds moral indecency to the pile of dishonesty and vacuity. When Starmer declared Israel had the right to cut off energy and water to Palestinian civilians, he did so as a human rights lawyer who understands the Geneva conventions. After letting shadow cabinet ministers defend him, he claimed it “has never been my view that Israel had the right to cut off water, food, fuel or medicines”. We all have political red lines: mine is supporting what would amount to war crimes against innocent civilians, toddlers and newborn babies among them, then gaslighting the public over doing so.’

There are now belated and sporadic calls from Westminster demanding British arms be ‘suspended’. Insufficient media attention has focused on the damaging revelation that the Tory government has been told by its lawyers that Israel is in breach of international law and that the UK ‘has to cease all arms sales to Israel without delay’ or it could be found to be complicit in genocide. The government wishes to bury these truths.

But pressure continues to mount on Downing Street: more than 600 lawyers, academics and retired senior judges, including three former supreme court justices, have signed a letter to the prime minister warning that the UK government is breaching international law by continuing to arm Israel. Neither the Tory government nor the Labour ‘opposition’ have yet agreed to stop selling arms to Israel. ‘Shameful’ hardly sums it up.

Meanwhile, Department for Business and Trade civil servants who administer licenses for arms exports to Israel have raised concerns with their trade union that they could be complicit in war crimes in Gaza. They wish to cease such work ‘immediately’. As reported by Sky News, the Public and Commercial Services Union, which represents civil servants, has requested an urgent meeting with the department to discuss ‘the legal jeopardy faced by civil servants who are continuing to work on this policy.’

What does it say about the state of British society, and indeed democracy itself, that the public is being denied a realistic political choice to dissociate itself from mass slaughter and to stop the genocide in Gaza?

Noam Chomsky has often pointed out that ‘the ideological system is bounded by the consensus of the privileged’ and that ‘elections are largely a ritual form.’ In other words, the public is technically allowed to participate in ‘democracy’ by pushing buttons every few years. But we have ‘essentially no role in formulating policy’. Our function is largely reduced to ratifying decisions made by the people in power. (Quoted in ‘Between Thought and Expression Lies a Lifetime: Why Ideas Matter’, Noam Chomsky and James Kelman, PM Press, 2021, pages 103 and 159).

If public awareness of this reality becomes widespread, then, and only then, is there hope of real progress in society.

DC & DE