Thursday, July 13, 2006

CBC News

The CBC. Again.

As much as I dislike the Conservatives I am more and more inclined every day I watch CBC News to vote for Stephen Harper if he promises to abolish the CBC. Of course it would be preferable if the 800 + million the CBC gets in Parliamentary appropriations per year were spent on community based broadcasting but we wouldn't get that even if the NDP formed the government. In any case, these are just words of frustration and anger. I'd rather vote for the Rhinocerus Party than the Dinosaurs headed by Harper.

I am disgusted with the propaganda machine our public broadcaster has become. Not only with respect to the Middle East, but especially with that. The condescension the network shows towards those viewers who are still tuning in is hard to describe. (And that is true with respect to programming in general, not only news. Otherwise their main offerings wouldn't be ancient reruns of Frazier, Simpsons and stale satire in the form of old 20 Minutes episodes and other comedy programs etc..) Once upon a time - a long time ago - the quality was there but it's gone.

One of the best reporters the CBC has, Neil McDonald, was removed as Middle East correspondent - rumour goes - because he was too sympathetic towards the Palestinians. (I think he just had a bit of balance in his reporting.) Adrienne Arsenault, another extremely competent reporter, inherited his role. Now she seems to be gone. Laurie Graham, the present CBC correspondent in the area, has aroused my anger for some time now with her constant reference to Quassam rockets and not much about the disastrous impact of Israel's response. Until tonight video to support her reporting consisted of a couple of small holes in the ground and even tonight's footage wasn't very impressive. A damaged car with lots of small holes which look more like the result of machine gun fire than a rocket. Two small holes in the ground. Some small debris lying in the street. Certainly not what I 'd expect from a rocket attack. Also, her attire was more in line with a dinner date than something appropriate for a dangerous area where rockets could hit any time.

A business was destroyed Ms Graham claimed. Why she had absolutely no pictures is mind boggling since (unlike the noon broadcast) a camera man accompanied her. A beach is empty because people are afraid, she said. That is of course possible but is proof of nothing. A broken balcony rail didn't look in any way like the devastation Israel's weapons caused in Lebanon and Gaza. Ms Graham and the newsreaders on CBC routinely quote the Israeli government and present their statements as if they were the truth. We all know that politicians usually say the truth, don't we? It makes one sick.

The criminal attack on Beirut's airport wasn't even mentioned until the evening news. (The BBC had lots of reader comments in the morning about this criminal terrorist act.) One reader asked if it was OK for Great Britain to bomb Ireland blowing up bridges and killing civilians indiscriminately in response to an IRA bombing attack in London. Or if the UK would invade France in response to some homemade rockets fired on Dover from Calais. Predictably there is also a lot of anti-semitic crap among the comments but the site is worth visiting for people who want a little more balance in the coverage of this unfolding tragedy. Check out the image gallery showing the destruction caused by Israel here and the video links here.

I don't recall the CBC giving much coverage to the criminal (in terms of international law) disproportionate attack on Gaza. The collective punishment of people who are not at all connected with the Quassam attacks or the kidnapping of the soldiers and the killing of women and children in response to the actions of Hamas or Hezbollah.

Gideon Levy a columnist for Haaretz, a mainstream Israeli newspaper, speaks about facts CBC reporters should be exploring. He wrote:

" `They started,' will be the routine response to anyone who tries to argue, for example, that a few hours before the first Qassam fell on the school in Ashkelon, causing no damage, Israel sowed destruction at the Islamic University in Gaza.

Israel is causing electricity blackouts, laying sieges, bombing and shelling, assassinating and imprisoning, killing and wounding civilians, including children and babies, in horrifying numbers, but `they started.' ...

We are allowed to bomb anything we want and they are not allowed to launch Qassams. ... the majority thinks that all the justice is on our side. Like in a schoolyard fight, the argument about who started is Israel's winning moral argument to justify every injustice.

So, who really did start? And have we `left Gaza?'

Israel left Gaza only partially, and in a distorted manner. The disengagement plan, which was labeled with fancy titles like "partition" and "an end to the occupation," did result in the dismantling of settlements and the Israel Defense Forces' departure from Gaza, but it did almost nothing to change the living conditions for the residents of the Strip.

Gaza is still a prison and its inhabitants are still doomed to live in poverty and oppression. Israel closes them off from the sea, the air and land, except for a limited safety valve at the Rafah crossing. They cannot visit their relatives in the West Bank or look for work in Israel, upon which the Gazan economy has been dependent for some 40 years. Sometimes goods can be transported, sometimes not.

Gaza has no chance of escaping its poverty under these conditions. Nobody will invest in it, nobody can develop it, nobody can feel free in it. Israel left the cage, threw away the keys and left the residents to their bitter fate. Now, less than a year after the disengagement, it is going back, with violence and force.

We promised to free prisoners and didn't keep the promise. We supported democratic elections and then boycotted the legally elected leadership, confiscating funds that belong to it, and declaring war on it.

We started. We started with the occupation, and we are duty-bound to end it, a real and complete ending. We started with the violence. There is no violence worse than the violence of the occupier, ...

The West Bank is still under the boot of occupation, the settlements are flourishing, and every limply extended hand for an agreement, including that of Ismail Haniyeh, is immediately rejected. And after all this, if someone still has second thoughts, the winning answer is promptly delivered: "They started." They started and justice is on our side, while the fact is that they did not start and justice is not with us."

The respected analyst Gwynne Dyer points out what the reasons might be for the death and destruction Israel is sowing in the Middle East. He wrote:

"Cpl. Gilad Shalit, the soldier who was taken hostage, is no more to blame for the mess he inherited than any other 19-year-old Israeli or Palestinian, and he certainly does not deserve to die. But it is hard to see how blowing up the Gaza Strip’s main power-generating station or arresting eight cabinet ministers and 34 legislators of the democratically elected government of the occupied Palestinian territories in simultaneous night raids on their homes furthers the cause of Cpl. Shalit’s freedom. There is no sense of proportion here."

Quoting Gideon Levy he continues: “It is not legitimate to cut off 750,000 people from electricity. It is not legitimate to call on 20,000 people to run from their homes and turn their towns into ghost towns. It is not legitimate to kidnap half a government and a quarter of a parliament. A state that takes such steps is no longer distinguishable from a terror organization."

Israel’s past offers enough parallels that its government should and probably does understand that it has a choice: to ignore the extremists and talk about some kind of peace deal with the mainstream or to use the extremists as an excuse not to talk to the mainstream either. It has chosen the latter option, and the current, vastly disproportionate Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip are the evidence for it.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has big plans for imposing a “peace settlement” and new frontiers on the Palestinians—frontiers that will keep all the bigger Jewish settlement blocks (plus all of Jerusalem, of course) within Israel. International political correctness requires that he negotiate this with the Palestinians, but he knows perfectly well that they could never agree to such a terrible deal. Why should they? So he must find a way of demonstrating that negotiations are impossible.

Olmert knows (even if Washington doesn’t) that destroying the Hamas government will not bring the “moderates” back to power. It will just create a power vacuum in the occupied territories that will be filled by all kinds of crazies with guns. Ideal circumstances for carrying out Olmert’s plans, wouldn’t you say?"
Have a look at the many press realeases of B'tselem, an Israeli Human Rights group and the one about the killing of 9 members of the Abu Selmiyeh family in the bombing of Gaza in particular. B'tselem has "grave suspicion of a war crime" in this case. If you visit their site have a look at the wealth of information about the conflict that can be found there.

Peace Now called for the cessation of the bombing of Gaza three weeks ago pointing out that it plays into the hands of the terrorists and does nothing about solving the "Quassam problem".

Six human rights groups petitioned the Israeli High Court July 11, 2006 demanding that the crossings in Gaza be opened to allow for the steady and regular supply of fuel, food, medicine, and equipment, including spare parts needed to operate generators. Read about the catastrophic effects this blockade has on innocent civilians including women and children.

Don't expect to hear much about this on the CBC. They rather focus on the plight of a little boy who was unable to sleep and preferred to show some UN relief being distributed to people in Gaza just as they spent several minutes dealing with the minor damage the Quassam rockets caused and mere moments showing images of the terrorist attack on Beirut's airport and the destruction of a highway in southern Lebanon.

The CBC also does not usually report on peace demonstrations by Israelis. Only a few hours after the start of the attack on Lebanon, 200 peace activists gathered in front of the Ministry of Defense to protest against it. But they did devote an enormous amount of time on the staged demonstrations of the settlers who did not want to leave Gaza. To report on Israelis demonstrating for peace would be admitting that Israel is doing something wrong, wouldn't it?

The CBC has no balance in its "news" reports (Afghanistan and Iraq are other examples) and no concern for the viewers. It seems to be there mainly for the benefit of its employees and it is no surprise that there is no critical news coverage. It might upset the apple cart and the CBC's employees might be looking for work elsewhere.

Added Friday July 14th:

Haaretz reported today:

Two people were moderately hurt and eight sustained light injuries after a Katyusha rocket hit a residential building in Safed on Friday afternoon. The building sustained heavy damage.

Channel 1 TV footage showed heavy damage to the building and its surroundings. Smashed windows and wrecked cars were seen on the street that was strewn with cement fallout.

Early Friday evening, one man sustained light injuries when a Katyusha rocket landed in the Galilee village of Yesod Hama'alah. Earlier in the day, casualties were reported in the upper Galilee village of Peki'in after four rockets landed there, as well as in the community of Hatzor Haglilit where two people were lightly wounded. Three Katyusha rockets hit Kiryat Shmona on Friday afternoon. No casualties were reported in the strike.

Hezbollah continued firing Katyusha rockets on the north of the country Friday, a day after two Israelis were killed by rocket fire and some 120 were wounded when scores of Katyusha rockets rained down across northern Israel.

On Friday morning and afternoon, Hezbollah fired Katyusha rockets at Kibbutz Baram in the Upper Galilee, at Safed, Rosh Pina, and also at the northern town of Nahariya. Two people were lightly wounded in Nahariya and one woman was treated for shock in Safed.

Several rockets that landed in open areas near Nahariya sparked fires.

"moderately hurt light injuries": Compare that to the death toll and destruction among Palestinians.

"a day after two Israelis were killed by rocket fire and some 120 were wounded; casualties were reported; two people were lightly wounded ":

Why are there no images on the web or in print media of the dead and just what were the wounds of those 120? Haaretz has a picture of the physical damage. Why not of the wounded and casualties?

How much of this is true and how much is propaganda?

That's difficult to say given the past record of lies and deception on the part of Israel.

The facts speak for themselves:

At least 55 Lebanese have been killed since Israel began retaliating for the capture of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah guerrillas in a raid across the southern Lebanese border.

One of the dead was a Hezbollah guerilla, the others were civilians.

The image on top of the page is NOT from Haifa. It is not a picture of a Hezbollah trainig camp or even one of their offices. It IS an image of Beirut International Airport on July 14th 2006. It IS the result of Israeli terrorism.

It's 8:30 am and I "can't wait" to watch the CBC News at noon. Their sensational/hysterical coverage which is likely to come is kind of predictable.

It would be nice if I was wrong.