Canadian Arab News
|Juxtaposing casuistry against honesty doesn’t add up to editorial balance
July 19, 2007
To illustrate the willful ignorance that plagues mainstream news reporting—as if further proof were necessary—I’d like to describe the bizarre behaviour of a local radio station after I called to inquire about its international coverage.
During the noon newscast, I heard yet another negative story about Iran, this time concerning the country’s high execution rate of minors. What bothered me was not the story itself, but why CKNW decided to inflict this particular one on its listeners. True, every news story is worth telling if it’s accurate and can be justified to the station’s audience, but there are dozens of stories out of the Middle East far more important and relevant than this one.
The woman in the newsroom who took my call simply said that the assignment editor, pulled it off the Associated Press newswire and selected it for broadcast. I then asked why the station hadn’t run any stories about the collusion between the U.S. and Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah Party to stage a coup against the democratically elected Palestinian government.
The coup had been substantiated and reported elsewhere. On June 22 Jonathan Steele of The Guardian wrote about the documents Hamas seized from Fatah headquarters that contained details of the coup. One document dated March 2 described how the U.S. would spend US$1.27 billion for seven special Fatah battalions (4,700 men) and provide extra training and arms for Abbas’s 15,000-man presidential guard and other security forces.
The document goes on to detail Israeli and U.S. anger with the Saudi-brokered Mecca agreement because it led Abbas to create a Fatah–Hamas unity government under Hamas leadership. The plan for a coup is spelled out clearly: “The desired outcome will be the transformation of Palestinian security forces and provide for the president of the Palestinian Authority to able to safeguard decisions such as dismissing the cabinet and forming an emergency cabinet.”
Given that The Guardian could report on this at length, CKNW should at least have had a brief mention, no?
Judge for yourself the response I received: “I’m not interested in Middle East conspiracy theories!… Who do you think you‘re talking to? We don’t have the manpower to cover international news!”
Conspiracy theories? The story is in the public domain and documented.
Manpower?! Surely the staff at the station have heard of the Internet, and someone in the newsroom possesses the intellectual acuity to research a story on the Middle East without leaving the office.
Alas, when I suggested that there was more to news than AP, which was clearly biased, I was told where to go: “TAKE IT TO THE CBC!! TAKE IT TO THE CBC!!”
I didn’t have to. Canada’s reliable public broadcaster already had the story, and a week earlier at that.
I never did get a straight, much less a sane, answer to my question, but the knee-jerk hostility and verbal convulsions told me all I needed to know. The story about Iran was gratuitous filler designed to nurture negative stereotypes. The non-reporting of the highly relevant story of the failed U.S.–Fatah coup against Hamas speaks volumes for CKNW’s news judgment and fear of the Lobby. Can’t have comprehensive, honest reporting where Israel and Hamas are concerned, now, can we?
|Gaza-born warlord Mohammed Dahlan, here speaking at a Jan. 15, 2006, Fatah rally at the Casablanca Hotel in Ramallah, has links to Israel and the CIA. Like Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Dahlan has shown himself to be a willing collaborator with Palestine’s occupiers. Given that Abbas and his Fatah party now have little or no credibility among Palestinian voters, and given that Israel and the U.S. are angry at Abbas for agreeing to work with Hamas, there can be little doubt that the staunchly anti-Hamas Dahlan will be groomed to be Isramerica’s next man in Palestine.
photo: Mushir Abdelrahman/MAANnew courtesy of the electronic intifada
In that same vein, listeners will wait in vain for any substantive information on Gaza-based warlord Mohammed Dahlan, his role in fostering intra-Palestinian warfare, or Isramerica’s plans to install him as the new leader of Fatah. Here are few salient facts that consumers of the mass media need to know before the spin doctors get to work and reinvent this odious quisling as a champion of Palestinian “democracy.”
Dahlan was born in the Khan Younis refugee camp and founded the Fatah youth association (Shabiba). In 1994 he became head of the notorious Preventive Security Forces. With aid from Israel, Dahlan waged war on Fatah’s critics, especially Hamas, and was responsible for instigating much of the factional fighting.
On Nov. 18 that year, clashes between Dahlan’s forces and demonstrators left 15 dead and hundreds wounded. In February and March 1996, after sacrifice bombings were conducted inside Israel, Dahlan’s forces arbitrarily arrested 2,000 Palestinians, some of whom died under torture and other forms of ill-treatment.
In 2000, during the corrupt Oslo negotiations, Dahlan followed Abbas’s lead and showed Israeli delegates that he was someone they could work with. In 2002, Dahlan’s treachery was put on display in the Israeli Knesset when Defence Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer said he once offered Dahlan control of the Gaza Strip in exchange for using his substantial military force to maintain quiet along the border.
Dahlan is the ideal person to lead a coup. He is a petty warlord who thrives on violence and needs Isramerica to give him stature and purpose. He appears not to mind that he is being used to enslave his own people. It matters not to him that Hamas pledged to work out a truce with Israel and stopped all sacrifice bombings once it came to power.
Khalid Meshal, leader-in-exile of Hamas’s military and political wings, articulated Hamas’s essentially democratic, conciliatory position in an opinion piece in The Guardian soon after Hamas’s electoral victory in 2006:
“We shall never recognize the right of any power to rob us of our land and deny us our national rights. We shall never recognize the legitimacy of a Zionist state created on our soil in order to atone for somebody else’s sins or solve somebody else’s problem. But if you are willing to accept the principle of a long-term truce, we are prepared to negotiate the terms.”
It is inconceivable that any honourable Palestinian should have a problem with this, yet Dahlan resigned from government rather than serve in a Hamas-led unity government under Ismail Haniyeh.
The only democratic, politically legitimate power in Palestine is Hamas, yet our pro-Israel media insist upon denying this fact. Even when the truth manages to get out it is denigrated. On June 27, Hamas spokesman Fawzy Barhoom told The Globe and Mail:
“It’s the beginning of a program from America, Israel, [Palestinian president] Mahmoud Abbas and [Fatah strongman Mohammed] Dahlan to destroy the resistance and protect the occupation. Now that there is the establishment of stability in Gaza, they want to make new instability.”
This statement is spot-on accurate, and can be backed up with copious evidence. So how does reporter Mark MacKinnon follow up this observation?: “The accusation of a grand international conspiracy against Hamas was nothing new. The naming of Mr. Abbas and Mr. Dahlan among the conspirators was yet another demonstration of how far relations have sunk between the Islamists and their secular foes in Fatah.”
He dismisses everything Barhoom said; repeats the stereotype of Hamas as “Islamist” (a nonsense word); praises Fatah as secular; and comes to the defence of Abbas and Dahlan!
Why did MacKinnon bother talking to someone from Hamas if he was predisposed to regurgitate canned propaganda? If MacKinnon can write such dishonest crap from overseas, CKNW hardly seems at a disadvantage.
While CKNW, The Globe and Mail and other “respectable” news sources lie and censor the news, the real world marches on. This comment from The Age beautifully captures the futile dishonesty of serving Isramerican disharmony:
“On paper—and on television—Mr Dahlan’s [Preventive Security and National Security] forces were more than a match for Hamas. It was only in the real world, in Gaza, that they weren’t worth a damn. As the politicians bluster, Gaza is the only place in the Middle East where you can check the script against reality.”