Danny Schechter, former CNN and ABC producer, discusses how the State of Israel controls the narrative—by kidnapping all of the witness, while monopolizing the space in the media for quoted ‘officials’ (9:20):

If one watches these segments with Sean Hannity interviewing Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) at Fox News, Eliot Spitzer interviewing a Neo-Con law professor and one of the Israeli prime minister’s former chiefs of staff at MSNBC or reads this ridiculous editorial at The Washington Post (WaPo), one can understand why a guy who sometimes gets it right—like Chris Matthews at MSNBC—‘sides with Israel on this one’.

Watching Mr. Matthews interview with the Janine Zacharia, Jerusalem correspondent for the WaPo, I felt an uneasiness from her. She communicated well—I felt—that there is no “definitive picture” in the 48 hours following the Israeli Navy’s hijacking of the Freedom Flotilla. Ms. Zacharia is one of the better Jerusalem correspondents in the mainstream American media, I feel, so the segment is worth watching. It’d be better if Mr. Matthews didn’t begin the interview with the plan to end it parroting the WaPo line.

Very few in the American press are as heroic as Helen Thomas of the White House Press Corps (1:33):

Hanin Zoabi, member of the Israeli Knesset aboard the flotilla, called the hijacking a “pirate military operation”, on the parliament floor, Ha’aretz reports today. She describes to Russia Today that the Israel Defence Forces opened fire before hijacking the first ship. She raises serious questions regarding the documentation and communication of events. Most importantly, she doesn’t let the flotilla hijacking become a red herring, as the Financial Times heroically conducted themselves at their editorial page, and brings the conversation back to the Gaza blockade (5:08):

Hasan Nowarah, Scottish national of Justice for Palestine, tells the BBC that the flotilla was being shot upon from the helicopters before dropping the Israeli commandos onto the vessels. He also raises what’s confused me: how has the number of the dead gone from Israel Army Radio reporting 16, Al Jazeera reporting 19, and Israeli officials reporting at least 10 to the unified narrative that nine died as a result of the Israeli hijacking? (4:36):

Salon blogger and legal expert Glenn Greenwald actually shared some insight to follow Mr. Sptizer’s garbage interviews—which stuck to a very neat and tidy script for ten minutes, not so different from that of Mr. Hannity, Sen. McCain or Mr. Matthews’ conclusion. “[A]t the end of Spitzer’s discussions with [the previous Israel-first guests], he asked them to ‘stick around just in case’, and once I was left, he brought at least one of them back on to respond to what I said without challenge,” he wrote yesterday (6:25):

Over 120 of the passengers were released to Jordan late last night and counter the Israeli narrative of self-defense, though hundreds remain detained, the BBC reports. The unified narrative from the flotilla passengers that Israel attacked the flotilla before hijacking it and the passengers didn’t—were incapable—of forceful resistance until the naval commandos invaded the ships. The released detainees describe being held in small cells, underfed, harshly interrogated and “totally ripped of their belongings”, Nisreen el-Shamayla reports at Al Jazeera (2:27):

Israel plans to have all detainees released by tomorrow, Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev told the BBC.

The MV Rachel Corrie, an Irish vessel named after the American activist killed by an Israeli bulldozer over seven years ago,  is due to arrive in today to attempt breaking the blockade, according to the Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign.”The Irish government, for its part, has threatened Israel with ‘the most serious consequences”‘if any Irish national, captured or currently aboard an aid vessel, is harmed,” Stephen Webster writes at The Raw Story.

EDIT: The New York Times editorial page weighed in today calling on the Obama Administration to join the other four permanent members and the international community in opposing the unlawful blockade of the Gaza Strip, but there’s a cognitive dissonance in saying that “it should be clear that the blockade is unjust”, but the criticism of Israel’s hijacking is that the I.D.F. wasn’t “better prepared to defend themselves without using lethal force”.

This is the leading voice of the intellectual class in the U.S.? Earth to The Gray Lady: if the blockade is “unjust”, intercepted the flotilla with ‘or else’ demands is an act of piracy.

The editors also claim that Hamas—the ‘democratically-elected’, by consensual statist standards, governing body of Gaza’s, “refusal to accept Israel’s right to exist” would make the blockade legitimate if “punishing Gaza’s 1.4 million residents” wasn’t “diverting attention”.

Hamas accepts the existence of the State of Israel and doesn’t call for its abolition. Days after Israel broke its ceasefire with Hamas in November 2008, Amira Hass reported at Ha’aretz, that Ismail Haniyeh—Hamas leader in Gaza—“was willing to accept a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders”, in accordance with international law. This was been reported in the mainstream media since as early as 2006, where the Khaled Meshaal—Hamas’ political leader, living in Syria—said, yes, “Hamas will not recognize Israel,” but because the group “will not give legitimacy to occupation”. The occupation is regularly defined by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority as that which extends past Israel’s unlawful 1967 colonization.

Neither he nor any significant Palestinian negotiating figure has deviated from this. If anything, you will only find negotiators and public figures of the West Bank ruling party, Fatah, making concessions to bridge the gap between the legal 1967 borders and the status quo which has resulted from the State of Israel’s illegal colonization.

The ‘Hamas doesn’t recognize Israel’s right to exist’ meme is pure bullshit. It is Israel and the U.S. which refuse Palestinians’ right to self-determination. It is Israel that continuously expands its authority beyond its legal—by any serious standards—borders. It is the U.S. that consistently blocks any international execution of international law against the Israeli government and enables the disenfranchisement of Palestinians—their right to exist.

As Ehud Barak, former Israeli prime minister and current defense minister, told the commandos, earlier today, “We need to always remember that we aren’t North America or Western Europe, we live in the Middle East, in a place where there is no mercy for the weak and there aren’t second chances for those who don’t defend themselves. You were fighting for your lives—I saw it, and I heard it from your commanders.”

The passengers of the flotilla were the weak and the Israeli Navy showed no mercy when those passengers of the pirated ships sought to defend themselves, but in on the lunatic Planet Zionism, the ‘Chosen People Doctrine’ need only apply.

EDIT2: Peter LaVelle’s “CrossTalk” at Russia Today has Professor Norman Finkelstein on the panel. The program begins with a report from Chris Guiness of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency before they discuss Israel’s denial of a humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the flotilla hijacking itself. Watch it here with my comment.

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