Liveblogging the Media War, Jan. 6January 6, 2009 10:16 by BackSpin Editor
Another day of liveblogging the media war. Watch this post throughout the day as I'll be frequently updating if today is as intense as yesterday.
5:22 p.m. One of Israel's top Druze diplomats, Reda Mansour, wonders how long Gaza will put up with an Iranian puppet regime calling the shots, which brings me full circle back to another echo of Kevin O'Brien. An appropo time to break from liveblogging another day in the media war.
4:58 p.m. Following up on Philip Stone's assessment of Al-Jazeera, Journalim News notes that the network's coverage of the war features an awful lot of interactive bells and whistles. Check out how Al-Jazeera's using Microsoft Virtual Earth to plot the fighting.
4:32 p.m. Joel Pollak replied to my survey thoughtfully pointing out that Israel's success in the "media war" depends on how you define it. If the goal is to sway the opinions of the public or the elites, then Israel is doing poorly — in some ways, even worse than the Second Lebanon War.
But if the goal of the “media war” is to provide the political cover Israel needs to achieve its military goals, it is indeed winning. The point is not only to win debates but to give those already inclined to support you good reasons for doing so. That means not only the U.S. government but also anti-jihad Arabs, Iranian dissidents, etc. In that regard, Israel’s performance is an improvement over the last war.
The most important thing Israel can do on the media front is to achieve its military goals. Again, the world respects power above all. So Israel must defeat Hamas thoroughly and humble it if possible . . . .
Israel's supporters should not simply use new media to win public debates (though it helps), but also to connect like-minded people to one another, so they can share information and quickly translate it into action . . .
4:09 p.m.Tim Marshall comments on the less-than-stellar comments posted at Sky News.
All media organizations receive such missives at these times. My colleagues at the BBC – also known as the 'Lying Zionist puppet BBC/Lying Hamas puppet BBC (delete as appropriate) – will be getting the same treatment.
I suppose the positive thing is that some people think I’ve got lots of Palestinian and Arab friends, and others think I’ve got lots of Jewish and Israeli friends. Happily, they are both right, about this at least.
Salaam and Shalom.
Please, write right when commenting on other web sites. Do we really need to remind people of proper netiquette? Via MyCamp.
4:01 p.m. Kenneth Sikorski of Tundra Tabloid replied to my blogger survey, saying Finns are "either unconvinced by Hamas' excuses" or are "voicing support for Israel, which can be read from the many responses in the comment sections that accompany articles on many of the media's websites." Sikorski adds:
There again appears to be a gross lack of understanding on the part of the media concerning the use of force, what is justified and what is not. The mantra of the "disproportionate use of power" is widely seen in the editorials, which reflects that there has not been enough information disseminated to the media in regards to what force Israel is allowed to use under international law. The very idea that a Qassam rocket has no military use, being solely a weapon to terrorize a civilian population, and the use of such a weapon is a war crime, is lost on the public at large.
3:44 p.m. I wasn't able to participate in a conference call for bloggers organized by Israel's SF Consulate. After seeing Mere Rhetoric's reaction, I can understand the blogosphere's muted reaction.
2:38 p.m. Random Thoughts is giving me a run for my money.
2:34 p.m. Elder of Ziyon responded to my blogger survey:
Israel's PR is now releasing relevant videos the same day, not weeks later; they are answering questions and refuting false allegations in real time and not after the falsehoods have had the chance to dominate for three or five news cycles . . .
The sheer number of rabidly anti-Israel news and Web 2.0 outlets and anti-Israel protests and letters to the editor – all parroting the same lies to their varied audiences – makes "winning" a most difficult proposition. A simple word search of the word "Zionist" in Google news unleashes a torrent of vitriol, anti-semitism and pure loathing. Nothing that Israel does can combat the sheer amount of hatred that exists.
How could Israel improve? Make the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website easier to navigate, create a database of info on rocket attacks ("I would also love to retire my rocket calendar"). Read EoZ's whole post.
2:02 p.m. I don't normally link to Hebrew language pages, but I'm making an exception for Twit4Israel.
1:52 p.m. Khaled Mashaal ain't the only Hamasnik getting a soapbox for terror today. The LA Times gave op-ed ink to Meshaal's deputy, Mousa Abu-Marzook. After cutting through the half-truths and hyperbole, one sentence stands alone with any grain of truth:
Our spirit to fight on is the legacy of collective suffering . . .
Read it as "Hamas' spirit to fight on is by imposing collective suffering."
Hamas not only hides among the population, the study contends, but has made a main component of its combat strategy “channeling” the army into the most densely populated areas to fight — a model that is now playing out.
Shireen Shihab, 30, a resident of Gaza City, said Monday that she had seen Hamas fighters firing rockets toward Israel from a site two blocks away from her home. She said she and others could not express any opposition for fear of being labeled spies.
1:28 p.m. Richard Cohen: Anyone who ever visited Sderot would've seen this war coming.
1:07 p.m. Responding to my blogger survey, Yid With Lid doesn't think Israel is winning the media war, but is improving:
They need to throw the misleading reports right back in the reporter's faces. When they go on CNN and other news outlets, they should be prepared with examples and ask, why do you mislead the world. Its time to fight back, and Israel still isn't doing it. The Blogging community is standing up for Israel. Israel needs to stand up for Israel.
12:59 p.m. I'm not in the habit of looking at the obituary sections. Now that The Guardian's death notice for Nizar Rayan has come to my attention, I may have to break the habit.
12:45 p.m. The Arab media's taking some licks over its Gaza coverage too, if this Omani cartoon flagged by Memri is indicative of anything.
12:41 p.m. Steve Magid of It's Almost Supernatural responds to my blogger survey, offering his view from South Africa:
Israel can never win the media war in SA. The Palestinians have the full sympathy of an extremely left-wing media in South Africa. In other Western countries you often have publications which balance each other out. Not so in South Africa . . . Actually, it’s probably more correct to describe it as an anti-Israel stance rather than Palestinian support because the Mail & Guardian, Sunday Times et al didn’t care too much when Hamas was busy throwing blind-folded Fatah activists off buildings in Gaza.
. . . I think it’s only natural that states adopt the use of social technologies to convey their messages. Blogs, twitter, YouTube etc are excellent ways of interacting socially with an audience. Yes, the audience tends to be the already converted, but it does arm those people with the knowledge to better engage influential people in the media, NGOs and government.
12:29 p.m. Is Jeffrey Goldberg cracking?
12:15 p.m. NBC News correspondent Martin Fletcher says Israel, Hamas, Egypt and the PA are all trying to "control the message" at the expense of press freedom. Do I smell a whiff of moral equivalence?
All we see broadcast in Israel are homes battered by Palestinian rockets, with their intrinsic message that the Israelis have no choice but to retaliate against Hamas in order to return "peace and serenity" to its people.
And from Gaza, all we are allowed to see are crushed homes, bleeding adults and dead children. Their message: look what they’re doing to us, the world must stop them.
The irony, of course, is that the message from both sides is right – that the violence should stop. However, each side protests that only its violence is justified.
Israel and its supporters argue that there is no equivalence – they have been rocketed for years before their patience ran out. For Hamas, their charter states their goal – to destroy Israel.
For onlookers, images of destruction, each side’s key propaganda weapon, are confusing. Can anybody be right if all this is so wrong?
There is huge ignorance and bewilderment about the most basic and fundamental facts about Israel and the Middle East impasse, and considerable anger that the media has either misled people about it all or left them in ignorance.
11:40 a.m. For curiousity, I emailed a few bloggers last night, asking if they think Israel's winning the media, and what they think Israel could do better. Pamela Atlas of Atlas Shrugs, was the first to reply:
The media is in the tank for Islamic jihad. The Jews are responsible for getting the truth out through other means of communication . . . [Israel should] reach out to alternative media – new media. Help us build a new information/news delivery system.
As I work my way through the inbox today, I'll post more blogger responses.
11:31 a.m. Fisk's being Fisk again.
11:30 a.m. Palestinian journalist Fares Akram indicates that O'Brien might be on to something about popular anger against Hamas. A day after his father was killed in an airstrike, Akram and his nine-months-pregnant wife are fleeing the fighting. Despite everything, he managed to file this dispatch:
And the overwhelming feeling I get is that ordinary people who find themselves locked in this conflict are angry with Hamas. Hamas is supposed to be the government; they have been provoking the Israelis with their rockets and putting people at risk, yet now their leaders have vanished from sight leaving no plans to provide food, medicines or any kind of security for us. Of course Hamas still has its supporters whose minds will never be changed. But more and more, that is what I'm hearing. The senior commanders of Hamas have gone underground and left their people behind.
Our modest, home-made rockets are our cry of protest to the world.
I don't think the editors are off the hook just because another commentary by Israeli Knesset member Shai Hermesh "balances out" Meshaal. Providing a soapbox (and links) to terror only give Hamas undeserved legitimacy.
10:50 a.m. Time's assessment concurs with O'Brien, who I posted a few minutes ago.
Hamas leaders believe their key weapon in this confrontation is the mounting pile of civilian casualties and the inevitable humanitarian crisis that accompanies military action in a densely populated urban setting. The longer the military operation endures, Hamas believes, the more it damages the Israelis' political goal of isolating and weakening the radical movement. A cease-fire that ends rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel won't necessarily be a setback for Hamas; the organization has, in fact, demanded such a truce all along, on the condition that Israel and Egypt open the border crossings that would allow a resumption of normal economic life in Gaza.
The very Gazan voters who swept Hamas into power are now Islamist cannon fodder. Pathetic.
10:34 a.m. Great tip in my in-box. Cleveland Plain-Dealer columnist Kevin O'Brien calls on Gaza to wake up:
Throughout the rest of the Arab world — "the Arab street," as we in the West have come to refer to the mobs that screech and keen and tote their anti-Israel and anti-American signs around whenever the cameras are nearby — support for Hamas' indiscriminate rain of rockets and shells on Israel is strong.
Which means "the street" is counting on you to stay weak.
Only if you continue to be a doormat for the murderous likes of Hamas, only if the bodies of your women and children can be paraded through the streets after the carnage Hamas has begged for, only if your deaths can be converted to undying propaganda are you, hapless residents of the Gaza Strip, of any use whatsoever.
You are nothing but props on Hamas' stage, and of far more value to your tormentors dead than alive.
The whole thing — the whole bloody, horrible drama — really is like a play, in that we in the audience have sat for 60 years, watching the same act over and over and over again and still are somehow capable of suspending disbelief.
10:12 a.m. Starting with alerts in my inbox. New Zealand Herald columnist Matt McCarten compares Israel to apartheid and the Nazis. No single snippet does justice to this ugly 855-words-long piece.