The Terror Journal

A Journal on Terrorism and Genocide

The Media War in Gaza

MediaThe arrival of Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, a.k.a. Joe the Plumber, at the Israeli border town of Sderot on Sunday caused a minor sensation among the members of the foreign press who were camped out there. Wurzelbacher, who got his first 15 minutes of fame as a prop for John McCain during last year’s U.S. election campaign, has swapped his plunger for a reporter’s notebook on a mission to cover the Gaza war for the conservative website Pajamas TV. Unable to see much of the fighting himself, Wurzelbacher — who during the election campaign warned that a vote for Barack Obama was a vote for the destruction of Israel — picked a fight of his own. Turning on his new colleagues in the foreign press corps, he groused, “You should be ashamed of yourself. You should be patriotic, protect your family and children, not report like you have been doing for the past two weeks since this war has started.” His complaint, it seemed, was that he was seeing too many reports of civilian casualties inside Gaza.

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But the reality is that Western reporters have done little reporting from the front lines of this latest phase of the world’s most reported conflict. Barred by Israel from entering Gaza even before the firing started, most foreign reporters can only get near the war zone by chasing down the occasional rocket sent by Hamas into Israel. Still, the press has once again found itself caught in a different kind of cross fire: the propaganda battle, across all media platforms, between Israel and Hamas (and the supporters of each) for international sympathy. And the reason Joe the Plumber is angry is that, despite (and perhaps also because of) Israel’s overwhelming military superiority, the Jewish state is losing on the propaganda front.

The Israeli government’s media operations are the most sophisticated in the region, and its extensively planned hasbara campaign of public advocacy swung into high gear almost as soon as the current offensive began. Israel and its advocates are stressing a broad theme to frame the conflict — rocket fire from Gaza is an existential threat from which Israel has a right to defend itself, they argue — and they are seeking to limit reporting on civilian suffering in Gaza by challenging how much time or space media outlets devote to such images and by emphasizing the great care being taken by Israeli soldiers to avoid hurting the civilians behind whom Israel’s enemies are hiding.

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Source: Time

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