Bulletin N°302



7 May 2007
Grenoble, France

Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
The modern version of the garrison state appears to be approaching quickly. Electronic surveillance and similar devices are now big business interests. Privacy and private life is fast becoming vestigial. But we are well advised to keep in mind that more dangerous than the gadget is the demand. Both real and imaginary concerns for security --national and domestic-- are the driving force in this market. If there are any permanent solutions to the repressive violence we are now living world-wide, it is the democratic control of technologies which will allow a more creative and more enjoyable private life in the hours away from work. This would require profound changes in the cultural climate and probably also in the organization of society. These are a few of the conclusions drawn by Barrington Moore, Jr. in his classic study of Privacy.

Elsewhere in this book, Moore describes the political philosophy of Thucydides (ca. 460 - 395) in ancient Athens:

Given human nature, which Thucydides regards as more or less constant, and the inevitability of conflict that flows from political fragmentation, there can be no politics except power politics. As he has the Athenian envoys say, 'we found these laws in existence and they will continue to exist long after we have ceased to do so'.
This is a doctrine of the iron necessity of ruthless behavior in political conflict. Thucydides would, in my judgment, have been on stronger grounds had he put less weight on human nature, which does show considerable variation from culture to culture, and more on inevitably recurring social factors derived from the existence of several independent centers of power. Even as it stands, the doctrine is a powerful one. It makes a mockery of any claim to the effect that private morality can be a sufficient guide for political behavior. The imperatives of private and public morality turn out to be permanently contradictory. Yet there has to be some effort to reconcile the two if society is not to fall into a war of all against all. No generally acceptable resolution of this dilemma has yet been found. Nor does it seem likely that mankind will ever discover one

This is the real issue in Classical Athens involving private versus public morality --not religion, not sex, nor greed, nor deception; but the imperatives that recur to produce amoral behavior, an essential distinction between barbarism and civilization. 

A quick glance at the home page of Information Clearing House offers several illustrations of U. S. military intrusions into many millions of family lives, and the growing threat to destroy the private sphere in Iranian society as well.


The five items below, which we recently received from CEIMSA supporters, also serve as reminders that democratic constraints today are indeed lacking in the public sphere. This is due, according to Moore's thesis, to a continual assault on the private lives of citizens, which is at the origin of most effective moral judgements.

[Nevertheless] even authoritarian regimes with universal moral claims on the population are capable of  developing some institutions that protect ordinary subjects from some abuses of power. But  there are close limits on how far such trends can go. Democratic policies provide a more favorable setting for such trends and for personal autonomy as well. [However] in a democracy there are also limits and obstacles. For various reasons, such as war and economic despair, large sections of the population may turn to atavistic forms of loyalty, with suspicion of ideas and thinkers that seem the least bit unconventional. They take up Community with a vengeance and in its name suppress all forms of dissidence. Out of fear or secret sympathy (or both) , sections of the elite may abet or even lead such popular movements. All in all, the wonder is not that privacy and private rights have been attacked or suppressed but that they have managed to grow at all.(274)

Item A., by Professor Michael Klare, gives a grim description of the imperial navies in the Persian Gulf area, preparing for another invasion. 
Item B., from Professor Edward Herman, is a brief economic anaylsis of late monopoly capitalism and a podcast from Berkeley, California by former U.S. Secretary of Labor, Robert B. Reich, now teaching at U.C.-Berkeley.
Item C., by investigative reporter John Pilger, is an article describing U. S. war preparations against Iran as  "the greatest crisis in modern times".
Item D. is an essay by Patrick O'Connor on the U.S. media's collaboration with Israeli imperialist attacks on the Palestinian homeland.
And finally, item E., from the Council for the National Interest Foundation, is an update on the impressive campaign to constrain the influence of the Israel Lobby on United States law makers and a commoration of the 40th annuversary of Israel's two-hour attack on The USS Liberty, America's most sophisticated intelligence ship in 1967, in which 34 Americans were killed and 173 crewmembers were wounded.

And before closing, I invite readers to see the short documentary on the work of film maker David Zeiger, the director of the highly acclaimed anti-war film:

Sir! No Sir! = http://www.ironweedfilms.com/films/sirnosir

Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Dircector of Research
Universit Stendhal Grenoble 3

from Michael Klare :
4 May 2007

Warships, Warships Everywhere, and Many a Bomb to Drop : Persian Gulf Update

by Michael T. Klare

Looking down from the captain's deck some six stories high, the flight deck of the USS Nimitz is an impressive sight indeed: 80 sleek warplanes armed with bombs and missiles are poised for takeoff at any minute, day or night. The sight of these planes coming and going from that 1,100-foot-long flight deck is almost beyond description. I can attest to this, having sailed on the Nimitz 25 years ago as a reporter for Mother Jones magazine.

 Today, the Nimitz is rapidly approaching the Persian Gulf, where it will join two other U.S. aircraft carriers and the French carrier Charles De Gaulle in the largest concentration of naval firepower in the region since the launching of the U.S. invasion of Iraq four years ago.

 Why this concentration now? Officially, the Nimitz is on its way to the Gulf to replace the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, which is due to return to the United States for crew leave and ship maintenance after months on station. But the U.S. Central Command (Centcom), which exercises command authority over all U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf area, refuses to say when the Eisenhower will actually depart -- or even when the Nimitz will arrive.

 For a time, at least, the United States will have three carrier battle groups in the region. The USS John C. Stennis is the third. Each carrier is accompanied by a small flotilla of cruisers, destroyers, submarines, and support vessels, many equipped with Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles (TLAMs). Minimally, this gives modern meaning to the classic imperial term "gunboat diplomacy," which makes it all the stranger that the deployment of the Nimitz is covered in our media, if at all, as the most minor of news stories. And when the Nimitz sailed off into the Pacific last month on its way to the Gulf, it simply disappeared off media radar screens like some classic "lost patrol."

 Rest assured, unlike us, the Iranians have noticed. After all, with the arrival of the Nimitz battle group, the Bush administration will be -- for an unknown period of time -- in an optimal position to strike Iran with a punishing array of bombs and missiles should the President decide to carry out his oft-repeated threat to eliminate Iran's nuclear program through military action. "All options," as the administration loves to say, remain ominously "on the table."

Meanwhile, negotiations to resolve the impasse with Iran over its pursuit of uranium-enrichment technology -- a possible first step to the manufacture of nuclear weapons -- continue at the United Nations in New York and in various European capitals. So far, the Iranians have refused to give any ground, claiming that their activities are intended for peaceful uses only and so are permitted under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), of which it is a signatory. The United States has made vague promises of improved relations if and when Iran terminates its nuclear program, but the full burden of making initial concessions falls on Tehran.

Just this weekend, a conference in Egypt, called by Iraqi officials to explore regional approaches to stability in the region (with Iranian officials expected to be in attendance), was being viewed in Washington as yet another opportunity to pressure Tehran to be more submissive to the West's demands on a wide range of issues, including Iranian support for Shiite militias in Iraq.

President Bush keeps insisting that he would like to see these "diplomatic" endeavors -- as he describes them -- succeed, but he has yet to bring up a single proposal or incentive that might offer any realistic prospect of eliciting a positive Iranian response.

And so, knowing that his "diplomatic" efforts are almost certain to fail, Bush may simply be waiting for the day when he can announce to the American people that he has "tried everything"; that "his patience has run out"; and that he can "no longer risk the security of the American people" by "indulging in further fruitless negotiations," thereby allowing the Iranians "to proceed farther down the path of nuclear bomb-making," and so has taken the perilous but necessary step of ordering American forces to conduct air and missile strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities. At that point, the 80 planes aboard the Nimitz -- and those on the Eisenhower and the Stennis as well -- will be on their way to targets in Iran, along with hundreds of TLAMs and a host of other weapons now being assembled in the Gulf.
Michael T. Klare is a professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College and author of Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Dependency on Imported Petroleum.

[This article first appeared on Tomdispatch.com, a weblog of the Nation Institute, which offers a steady flow of alternate sources, news, and opinion from Tom Engelhardt, long time editor in publishing, co-founder of the American Empire Project and author of Mission Unaccomplished (Nation Books), the first collection of Tomdispatch interviews.]

from Edward Herman :
4 May 2007
Subject: Double Decoupling --vg robert reich
Date: Fri, 4 May 2007 18:19:13 -0500
The Prospect

Double Decoupling
By Robert B. Reich

 [The rest of the world's major economies no longer depend on America's. Neither do America's own largest corporations.]

I 'm spending my spare time these days debating supply-siders who are convinced that the record-breaking Dow proves the correctness of the Bush tax cuts. Yes, the Dow did reach a record high last week. But the Commerce Department also reported that economic growth slowed to its weakest pace in four years. How can investors do so well while the real economy is doing so poorly? My supply-side friends don't have an answer, but I do.

It's because of two great decouplings that have occurred in recent years. First, the rest of the worlds' major economies have decoupled from the United States economy. China, India, Japan, and Europe are now such large markets they can grow briskly even as America slows.

Second, America's largest corporations have decoupled from the United States. Their overseas subsidiaries are booming even as their American operations stagnate. General Electric expects more than half its revenue this year to come from outside the United States for the first time. More than half of Boeing's new orders are from overseas. Ford is struggling in America but doing well in Europe.

In other words, the president's supply-side tax cuts are great for America's global investors, who have been investing their extra money around the world - either in foreign companies or in global American-based ones.

But little or nothing is trickling down to average working Americans. Half of U.S. households do own some shares of stock, usually through their IRAs or 401-Ks. But the vast majority own less than $5,000 worth. Their equity is in their homes, whose values have slumped. They're paying far more for health insurance and fuel. And their wages haven't kept up.

Bottom line: The Bush tax cuts have delivered for Wall Street but done zilch for America's Main Streets.


Robert Reich is a Prospect co-founder. This column is adapted from Professor Reich's weekly commentary on American Public Radio's Marketplace. His website can be found here and his blog can be found here.

from John Pilger :
12 April 2007

by John Pilger

The Israeli journalist Amira Hass describes the moment her mother, Hannah, was marched from a cattle train to the Nazi concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen. "They were sick and some were dying," she says. "Then my mother saw these German women looking at the prisoners, just looking. This image became very formative in my upbringing, this despicable 'looking from the side'."

It is time we in Britain and other Western countries stopped looking from the side. We are being led towards perhaps the most serious crisis in modern history as the Bush-Cheney-Blair "long war" edges closer to Iran for no reason other than that nation's independence from rapacious America. The safe delivery of the 15 British sailors into the hands of Rupert Murdoch and his rivals (with tales of their "ordeal" almost certainly authored by the Ministry of Defence - until it got the wind up) is both a farce and a distraction. The Bush administration, in secret connivance with Blair, has spent four years preparing for "Operation Iranian Freedom". Forty-five cruise missiles are primed to strike. According to Russia's leading strategic thinker General Leonid Ivashov: "Nuclear facilities will be secondary targets . . . at least 20 such facilities need to be destroyed. Combat nuclear weapons may be used. This will result in the radioactive contamination of all the Iranian territory, and beyond."

And yet there is a surreal silence, save for the noise of "news" in which our powerful broadcasters gesture cryptically at the obvious but dare not make sense of it, lest the one-way moral screen erected between us and the consequences of an imperial foreign policy collapse and the truth be revealed. John Bolton, formerly Bush's man at the United Nations, recently spelled out the truth: that the Bush-Cheney-Blair plan for the Middle East is an agenda to maintain division and instability. In other words, bloodshed and chaos equals control. He was referring to Iraq, but he also meant Iran.

One million Iraqis fill the streets of Najaf demanding that Bush and Blair get out of their homeland - that is the real news: not our nabbed sailor-spies, nor the political danse macabre of the pretenders to Blair's Duce delusions. Whether it is treasurer Gordon Brown, the paymaster of the Iraq bloodbath, or John Reid, who sent British troops to pointless deaths in Afghanistan, or any of the others who sat through cabinet meetings knowing that Blair and his acolytes were lying through their teeth, only mutual distrust separates them now. They knew about Blair's plotting with Bush. They knew about the fake 45-minute "warning". They knew about the fitting up of Iran as the next "enemy".

Declared Brown to the Daily Mail: "The days of Britain having to apologise for its colonial history are over. We should celebrate much of our past rather than apologise for it." In Late Victorian Holocausts, the historian Mike Davis documents that as many as 21 million Indians died unnecessarily in famines criminally imposed by British colonial policies. Moreover, since the formal demise of that glorious imperium, declassified files make it clear that British governments have borne "significant responsibility" for the direct or indirect deaths of between 8.6 million and 13.5 million people throughout the world from military interventions and at the hands of regimes strongly supported by Britain. The historian Mark Curtis calls these victims "unpeople". Rejoice! said Margaret Thatcher. Celebrate! says Brown. Spot the difference.

Brown is no different from Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and the other warmongering Democrats he admires and who support an unprovoked attack on Iran and the subjugation of the Middle East to "our interests" - and Israel's, of course. Nothing has changed since the US and Britain destroyed Iran's democratic government in 1953 and installed Reza Shah Pahlavi, whose regime had "the highest rate of death penalties in the world, no valid system of civilian courts and a history of torture" that was "beyond belief" (Amnesty).

Look behind the one-way moral screen and you will distinguish the Blairite elite by its loathing of the humane principles that mark a real democracy. They used to be discreet about this, but no more. Two examples spring to mind. In 2004, Blair used the secretive "royal prerogative" to overturn a high court judgment that had restored the very principle of human rights set out in Magna Carta to the people of the Chagos Islands, a British colony in the Indian Ocean. There was no debate. As ruthless as any dictator, Blair dealt his coup de grce with the lawless expulsion of the islanders from their homeland, now a US military base, from which Bush has bombed Iraq and Afghanistan and will bomb Iran.

In the second example, only the degree of suffering is different. Last October, the Lancet published research by Johns Hopkins University in the US and al-Mustansiriya University in Baghdad which calculated that 655,000 Iraqis had died as a direct result of the Anglo-American invasion. Downing Street officials derided the study as "flawed". They were lying. They knew that the chief scientific adviser to the Ministry of Defence, Sir Roy Anderson, had backed the survey, describing its methods as "robust" and "close to best practice", and other government officials had secretly approved the "tried and tested way of measuring mortality in conflict zones". The figure for Iraqi deaths is now estimated at close to a million - carnage equivalent to that caused by the Anglo-American economic siege of Iraq in the 1990s, which produced the deaths of half a million infants under the age of five, verified by Unicef. That, too, was dismissed contemptuously by Blair.

"This Labour government, which includes Gordon Brown as much as it does Tony Blair," wrote Richard Horton, editor of the Lancet, "is party to a war crime of monstrous proportions. Yet our political consensus prevents any judicial or civil society response. Britain is paralysed by its own indifference."

Such is the scale of the crime and of our "looking from the side". According to the Observer of 8 April, the voters' "damning verdict" on the Blair regime is expressed by a majority who have "lost faith" in their government.

No surprise there. Polls have long shown a widespread revulsion to Blair, demonstrated at the last general election, which produced the second lowest turnout since the franchise. No mention was made of the Observer's own contribution to this national loss of faith. Once celebrated as a bastion of liberalism that stood against Anthony Eden's lawless attack on Egypt in 1956, the new right-wing, lifestyle Observer enthusiastically backed Blair's lawless attack on Iraq, having helped lay the ground with major articles falsely linking Iraq with the 9/11 attacks - claims now regarded even by the Pentagon as fake.

As hysteria is again fabricated, for Iraq, read Iran. According to the former US treasury secretary Paul O'Neill, the Bush cabal decided to attack Iraq on "day one" of Bush's administration, long before 11 September 2001. The main reason was oil. O'Neill was shown a Pentagon document entitled "Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts", which outlined the carve-up of Iraq's oil wealth among the major Anglo-American companies. Under a law written by US and British officials, the Iraqi puppet regime is about to hand over the extraction of the largest concentration of oil on earth to Anglo-American companies.

Nothing like this piracy has happened before in the modern Middle East, where Opec has ensured that oil business is conducted between states. Across the Shatt al-Arab waterway is another prize: Iran's vast oilfields. Just as nonexistent weapons of mass destruction or facile concerns for democracy had nothing to do with the invasion of Iraq, so non-existent nuclear weapons have nothing to do with the coming American onslaught on Iran. Unlike Israel and the United States, Iran has abided by the rules of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, of which it was an original signatory, and has allowed routine inspections under its legal obligations. The International Atomic Energy Agency has never cited Iran for diverting its civilian programme to military use. For the past three years, IAEA inspectors have said they have been allowed to "go anywhere". The recent UN Security Council sanctions against Iran are the result of Washington's bribery.

Until recently, the British were unaware that their government was one of the world's most consistent abusers of human rights and backers of state terrorism. Few Britons knew that the Muslim Brotherhood, the forerunner of al-Qaeda, was sponsored by British intelligence as a means of systematically destroying secular Arab nationalism, or that MI6 recruited young British Muslims in the 1980s as part of a $4bn Anglo-American-backed jihad against the Soviet Union known as "Operation Cyclone". In 2001, few Britons knew that 3,000 innocent Afghan civilians were bombed to death as revenge for the attacks of 11 September. No Afghans brought down the twin towers. Thanks to Bush and Blair, awareness in Britain and all over the world has risen as never before. When home-grown terrorists struck London in July 2005, few doubted that the attack on Iraq had provoked the atrocity and that the bombs which killed 52 Londoners were, in effect, Blair's bombs.

In my experience, most people do not indulge the absurdity and cruelty of the "rules" of rampant power. They do not contort their morality and intellect to comply with double standards and the notion of approved evil, of worthy and unworthy victims. They would, if they knew, grieve for all the lives, families, careers, hopes and dreams destroyed by Blair and Bush. The sure evidence is the British public's wholehearted response to the 2004 tsunami, shaming that of the government. Certainly, they would agree wholeheartedly with Robert H Jackson, chief of counsel for the United States at the Nuremberg trials of Nazi leaders at the end of the Second World War. "Crimes are crimes," he said, "whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them, and we are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct which we would not be willing to have invoked against us."

As with Henry Kissinger and Donald Rumsfeld, who dare not travel to certain countries for fear of being prosecuted as war criminals, Blair as a private citizen may no longer be untouchable. On 20 March, Baltasar Garzn, the tenacious Spanish judge who pursued Augusto Pinochet, called for indictments against those responsible for "one of the most sordid and unjustifiable episodes in recent human history" - Iraq. Five days later, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, to which Britain is a signatory, said that Blair could one day face war-crimes charges.

These are critical changes in the way the sane world thinks - again, thanks to the Reich of Blair and Bush. However, we live in the most dangerous of times. On 6 April, Blair accused "elements of the Iranian regime" of "backing, financing, arming and supporting terrorism in Iraq". He offered no evidence, and the Ministry of Defence has none. This is the same Goebbels-like refrain with which he and his coterie, Gordon Brown included, brought an epic bloodletting to Iraq. How long will the rest of us continue looking from the side?

John Pilger's new film "The War on Democracy" will be previewed at the National Film Theatre in London on 11 May. www.bfi.org.uk/nft

From Patrick O'Connor :
3 May 2007

Buying the War on Palestinians: The US Media,
The New York Times and Israel

by Patrick O'Connor

A fter four disastrous years of US military occupation, Bill Moyers April 25th PBS special Buying the War attempted to hold the mainstream US media accountable for its complicity in selling the war on Iraq to the US public. Moyers documented how the US media, with The New York Times in a leading role, bowed to financial and political pressure, succumbed to an environment of patriotism and fear of terrorism,  and uncritically reported false US government claims.[1] Tragically, despite the terrible consequences of 60 years of Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people, there is still no significant movement to hold the US mainstream media accountable for a similar, dramatic failure in covering Israel and Palestine, and for its complicity in the US uncritical support for Israel.  

Moyers analysis of the US media failure on Iraq was valuable, yet incomplete. He explained that to launch the attack on Iraq high officials needed a compliant press, to pass on their propaganda as news and cheer them on.... our press largely surrendered its independence and skepticism to join with our government in marching to war.  Bob Simon of CBS explained to Moyers that the administration used marketing techniques to sell the war, Just repeat it and repeat it and repeat it Keep that drum beat going. Media critic Norman Solomon told Moyers, I think these [news] executives were terrified of being called soft on terrorism.  Moyers gave numerous examples of The New York Times passing on bogus intelligence on Iraq to the US public. Michael Massing of the Columbia Journalism Review highlighted the Times central role in marketing the Iraq war, saying: The New York Timesremainsimmensely influential. People in the TV world read it every morning... People in government-- of course read it, think tanks, and so on.

However, though Moyers mentioned that the now infamous neoconservatives had long wanted to transform the Middle East, beginning with the removal of Saddam Hussein, Moyers omitted a crucial reason for why the governments case for war resonated with both the US media and public. It was based in widely held stereotypes about Arabs, Muslims and the Middle East, assumptions which are also essential to understanding US policy in Israel and Palestine. In his classic 1978 book Orientalism, Palestinian-American scholar Edward Said asserted that the Western understanding of Arabs, Muslims and the Middle East is a product of colonialism, and that Westerners view the East as inherently inferior and in need of redemption.The US case for war in Iraq rested on orientalist assumptions - that the Middle East was an undifferentiated region of Arabs and Muslims who, lacking any history or valid grievances, are possessed by an irrationally violent nature as well as hatred of the West, Israel, freedom and democracy. The region could be transformed through a combination of US military force and Western enlightenment. Playing on this racist view of Arabs and Muslims which is deeply rooted in the US psyche, the US government managed to convince most Americans, via a complicit media, of fantastic tales about links between Saddam Husseins Baathist regime and Al Qaeda, stocks of horrific arms, a maniacal desire to use them against the US, and of the beneficial impact of shock and awe. This belief that irrational Arab and Muslim violence requires enlightened Western intervention and domination is also used to justify Israeli oppression of the Palestinians, underpins uncritical US support for Israel, and is central to US media coverage of Palestine and Israel.

Though Moyers did not, the neo-cons continually drew the link between Iraq and Israel, asserting that the road to Jerusalem passes through Baghdad. And in Israel, the other major outpost in the war on terror, racist ideology and politically tainted intelligence are also pushed by the government and credulously reported by US media outlets like The New York Times. For example, an April 11, 2007 Times news article by Isabel Kershner headlined unverifiable claims by Israels Shin Bet (the equivalent of our FBI) that it had thwarted a massive Hamas suicide bombing planned for Passover.[2] The article largely ignored Palestinian denials reported the same day in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz Daily.[3] The Shin Bet claim seemed to merit skepticism in light of the Palestinian denials, and Hamas decision two years ago to halt large-scale attacks.

Indeed, Hamas implication in a large-scale bombing plot would have come at a convenient moment for Israel. Following 16 months during which 27 Israelis were killed by Palestinians, the lowest total in more than six years, Israel is struggling to prevent the crumbling of the international boycott of the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority, and to fend off repeated peace overtures from the Palestinian Authority, Syria, Saudi Arabia and the Arab League. The Israeli government has been feeding the media stories saying that the calm is a ruse, that Hamas is using it to arm and plan attacks, and that Israel will therefore be forced to mount a large-scale invasion of Gaza soon. The Times has published at least four other articles echoing these Israeli government assertions since March 2007.[4]

In response to my email raising these criticisms, I received an email on April 27, 2007 from The New York Times Public Editor Byron Calame acknowledging that: In the editing of the article late in the evening, the denials Haaretz had obtained from unnamed Palestinian and Hamas officials were deleted.  While the vagueness of the sourcing made it less essential that those denials be kept in the story, I think the article would have been better with the denials included.

But, as with Iraq, the problem is much broader and more systematic than a few recent articles repeating dubious Israeli intelligence. My review of all 1085 New York Times news articles written from Israel and Palestine since December 1, 2004 confirms that the Times largely hews to the Israeli and US government drumbeat of the war on terrorism and downplays the Palestinian experience.[5] Though the Times is not much worse than other major US newspapers in reporting on Palestine and Israel, as with Iraq, the Times influential role means its failures have greater impact.

Of the 1085 Times news articles since December 1, 2004, 37% mentioned Palestinian attack(s), 36% mentioned terrorism, 28% mentioned terrorist(s), 21% mentioned Palestinian violence,[6] 18% mentioned suicide bombing(s), 16% mentioned Palestinian weapon(s), and 14% mentioned Palestinian radicals. In contrast to this strong Israeli narrative, only two words reflecting a Palestinian narrative appeared in a comparable percentage of Times news articles. Israeli settlement(s) were noted in 32% of articles,[7] and Israeli occupation was mentioned in 16% of articles. This imbalance is even more striking because the emphasis on Palestinian terrorism and violence corresponded with a two year and five month period during which Israelis killed 965 Palestinians, more than half civilians, while Palestinians killed 85 Israelis.[8] Nonetheless, Israeli attacks(s) are mentioned in 13% of Times articles, and Israeli violence in only 4%.

Only very careful readers of Times news reporting would be able to locate, amidst the barrage on Palestinian terrorism, basic elements of the Palestinian experience - Israeli human rights abuses, Israeli attacks and violations of international law, Palestinian poverty, the Palestinian understanding that they are victims of Israeli discrimination and racism, and Israels denial of the right of return to Palestinian refugees. In a startling display of bias, since December, 2004, 70 to 130 times as many Times news article mentioned Palestinian terrorism or Palestinian attack(s) as mentioned Israeli discrimination, racism or apartheid.[9] Thirty-five times as many articles mentioned Palestinian terrorism as mentioned Palestinian poverty,[10] though 70% of Palestinians are now living below the poverty line.[11]

Ethan Bronner, the Times Deputy Foreign Editor overseeing news reporting from Palestine and Israel, recently articulated the outlook behind The Times dramatic tilt towards a right-wing Israeli/US narrative. In deriding Jimmy Carters recent best-selling book, Bronner described the endless humiliation of daily life for the Palestinians under Israeli occupation as yesterdays story, especially since Israel's departures from southern Lebanon and Gaza have not stopped anti-Israel violence from those areas, and because for the most radical leaders of the Muslim world settling the Israel question means eliminating Israel.[12] However, Bronners claim that an emphasis on Palestinian and Muslim violence and radicalism is necessitated by recent events is belied by the reality that the Times approach is not a new one, but represents business as usual, reflecting the same orientalist depiction of Arabs and Muslims outlined by Edward Said in 1978.

A sampling of other Times news articles from the last weeks provides concrete examples of the biased reporting behind the numbers.

An April 22, 2007 article by Isabel Kershner Israel and Palestinians Trade Fire in Gaza and West Bank noted in the opening sentence that: A sharp escalation of Israeli-Palestinian violence in the West Bank and Gaza left up to six Palestinians dead and culminated in an Israeli airstrike into Gaza. Though six Palestinians were killed inside the West Bank and Gaza, with five deaths definitively attributed to the Israeli military, and no Israeli injuries reported, the article headlined an exchange of fire. Kershners opening summary sentence did not attribute the violence or even escalation to Israel, nor did she use the word attack to describe Israeli actions. Even more peculiar, of the articles 851 total words, 524 words were devoted to describing a Palestinian attack on a private American School for Palestinians in Gaza during which the attackers, Islamic extremists and Islamic radicals destroyed school property, but injured no one. Thus Israeli soldiers who killed six Palestinians, didnt attack and received less coverage than Palestinian radicals and extremists who attacked, though they hurt no one.

The same day, April 22, The Times ran a telling parallel news story by Jennifer Medina, Settlers' Defiance Reflects Postwar Israeli Changes, about an Israeli settler takeover of a Palestinian home in the middle of a Palestinian neighborhood in Hebrons old city. Rather than describing Hebrons settlers, acknowledged by Israelis as extreme, uzi-toting settlers who frequently attack Palestinians, as radicals or extremists, the Times politely called them the most uncompromising of the settlers.  And despite the settler takeover of a home in a Palestinian neighborhood, the Times subtly placed the burden of violence on Palestinians, noting, there are fears of violence -- there have been some reports of young Palestinians throwing rocks at the settlers. And a white Star of David is spray-painted on the front door of a Palestinian family. Of 1085 Times articles, 133 mentioned Palestinian radical(s), while only four articles mentioned Israeli radical(s). Colonizing settlers are neither radical nor violent, but colonized Palestinians are.

Growing Palestinian radicalization is a dangerous trend, but by minimizing Palestinians radicalizing experience of oppression and denial of rights, the Times reader is left to rely on the orientalist assumption that radicalism is a disease that springs naturally from Arab and Muslim minds and spreads. Over six years and thousands of articles during this Palestinian uprising, the New York Times quoted or paraphrased just 6256 words on human rights abuses by Israelis or by Palestinians from three respected, independent third parties, the major human rights reporting on Israel and Palestine Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the Israeli organization BTselem.[13] The phrase human rights can be found in only 7% of the 1088 Times articles since December 2004, international law in 2% of articles, and Palestinian rights in 0.4% of articles.

While it is not surprising that The New York Times marginalizes human rights and international law, The Times reports as infrequently on Palestinians basic human needs. Though 70% of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories now live below the poverty line, and 30% are unemployed,[14] over the last two years and five months, only 1% of Times news articles from Israel and Palestine discussed Palestinian poverty or unemployment, while 1.8% of articles described Palestinians as impoverished, and 1.3% described Palestinians as unemployed.

Additionally, the Times virtually ignores the experiences of 1.2 million Palestinian citizens of Israel, 20% of Israels population, and of five million Palestinians living as refugees. An immediate case in point is the Times reporting on Palestinian public intellectual, leader and former member of the Israeli Knesset Azmi Bishara. Bishara has been at the forefront of public discussions for years of Israeli discrimination against Palestinians and the assertion that Israel must transform itself from a Jewish state to a state of all its citizens. Over the last weeks Bishara left the country and resigned his parliament seat after being accused by the Israeli government of providing assistance to an enemy during war and money laundering. Bishara, an articulate Palestinian Christian intellectual, in a leadership role, with no involvement with armed resistance, insists that Israels problems are not confined to occupation, but are rather a function of its status as a Jewish state. Despite his prominent role in Israel, Palestine and the Arab World, since December 2004, Bisharas name was mentioned in only four of the 1085 news articles on Israel and Palestine, two of those in the last week. Given the Israeli and US governments insistence that Israel is a democracy, they would prefer that Bishara not exist, shut up or be shut up. The Times has until now largely complied with that wish.

More broadly, the concepts of Israeli discrimination and racism against Palestinians, which are part of the daily language of many Palestinians including Bishara, were raised in only 0.4% and 0.5% of all Times news articles on Israel and Palestine since December 2004. The concept of Israeli apartheid, also a daily staple of Palestinian discourse, but summarily dismissed by the Times Ethan Bronner as overstatement and a false echo of the racist policies of the old South Africa, was mentioned in only 0.3% of all Times news articles from Israel and Palestine. The Times has essentially refused Palestinians the opportunity to present their view that they are victims of discrimination and racism.

Renowned Israeli reporter Amira Hass has asserted that What journalism is really about it's to monitor power and the centers of power."[15] The US mainstream media, with The New York Times in the lead, has failed miserably in achieving that ideal, not only in covering Iraq, but also in reporting on Israel and Palestine. Rather than any concept of objectivity, balance or truth, the US media reflects instead the imbalance of power between Israelis and Palestinians, emphasizing the views of the most powerful actors - the Israeli and US governments. Palestinians lived experiences - that they are under attack, being killed, impoverished, having their land taken, denied their rights, and the victims of a discriminatory system - are drowned out by the drumbeat of Palestinian terrorism, even when few Israelis are being killed. As with Iraq, this racist narrative of inherent Arab violence is being exploited to justify domination of one people by another. Lacking this analysis, Bill Moyers Buying the War represents only a first step towards exposing US media bias in covering the Middle East.

Patrick OConnor is a New York City-based activist with Palestine Media Watch and the International Solidarity Movement. He is completing a research project on US newspaper coverage of Palestine and Israel. 


[1] http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/btw/transcript1.html

[2]Israel Says Hamas Was Plotting Terrorist Attacks, Isabel Kershner, The New York Times, April 11, 2007


[4]Israel Fires on Militants Planting Bomb, Killing One, Isabel Kershner, The New York Times, April 8, 2007; Israel Warns of Hamas Military Buildup in Gaza, Steven Erlanger, The New York Times, April 1, 2007; Sniper Wounds a Utility Worker in Israel, Isabel Kershner, The New York Times, March 19, 2007; Israeli Says Iran Is Training Hamas Men, Steven Erlanger, The New York Times, March 6, 2007

[5]Using LexisNexis, I identified 1085 articles datelined from Israel or Palestine between December 1, 2004 and April 27 2007,  488 by Greg Myre, 428 by Steven Erlanger, 57 by Dina Kraft, 40 by Isabel Kershner, 29 by Ian Fisher, 26 by Craig S. Smith, 9 by Jennifer Medina, 4 by John Kifner and 4 by James Bennet.

[6]For words like violence, attacks, weapons, and radicals I reviewed each citation and evaluated if the word referred to Palestinians, Israelis or was used in an undefined general manner or applied to both people.

[7]Settlements are frequently mentioned in New York Times articles simply as places, and not in a manner that implies that they are problematic. All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law according to a broad international consensus. However, only 5.5% of New York Times articles describe any Israeli action, including settlement, as illegal.

[8]BTselem Intifada casualty statistics, http://www.btselem.org /English/Statistics/Casualties.asp

[9]387 articles mentioned Palestinian terrorism, 399 note Palestinian attack(s), 5 articles mentioned discrimination against Palestinians, 4 mentioned racism targeting Palestinians, and 3 articles mentioned Israeli apartheid.

[10]387 articles mentioned Palestinian terrorism while 11 mentioned Palestinian poverty. Similarly, only 20 articles mentioned impoverished Palestinians, while 15 others mentioned poor Palestinians.

[11]OPT: Emergency appeal progress report, Jul Dec 2006, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), 24 Apr 2007


[12]Jews, Arabs and Jimmy Carter, Ethan Bronner, The New York Times, January 7, 2007; Blind New York Times Continues Attacks on Jimmy Carter, Patrick OConnor, January 8, 2007, http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID =11801

[13]The New York Times Marginalizes Palestinian Women and Palestinian Rights, Patrick OConnor and Rachel Roberts, November 17, 2006, http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article6061.shtml

[14]OPT: Emergency appeal progress report, Jul Dec 2006, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), 24 Apr 2007


[15]Amira Hass: Life Under Occupation, Robert Fisk, August 26 2001, The Independent, posted on http://www.commondreams.org/views01/0826-04.htm

From: Council for the National Interest Foundation
7 May 2007
Subject: Latest Updates from CNI Foundation

Council for the National Interest Foundation
1250 4th Street SW, Suite WG-1 Washington, DC 20024
800.296.6958 202.863.2951 Fax: 202.863.2952


May 7, 2007


Our final full-page New York Times advertisement in a series of six in the last year was published on Sunday, April 22nd. Each of the six ads ran opposite the editorial page inside the "Week in Review" section. Groups and individuals devoted to shielding Israel from any criticism have smeared the CNI Foundation as "anti-Semitic," and a few have even threatened us with violence. Groups such as Abraham Foxman's Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Malcolm Hoenlein's Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and the right-wing Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) have each attacked us with lies, innuendo, and guilt-by-association for telling the truth about our Middle East policies and for arguing that a settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict is in the national interest of the United States, and ultimately Israel.

Here is just a sample of some of the responses we received to our ad in the past week:

"Education and bringing light to the truth is essential to rein in the political influence of Israel in the United States." - Peter S. in Wyoming

"I was glad to see your full-page ad in the New York Times. I am a minority of one among my friends with regard to my criticism of Israel. I am angry at fellow Jews and the Democratic Party for their attacks on former President Carter. He is stating the truth. By his definition, Israel is imposing Apartheid on the West Bank. Sometimes, I feel like I'm the only one who has this position and I am happy to see a lot of others share this position." - Gerald W. in New York

You can see a copy of each of the six ads here.


The CNI Foundation is now accepting applications for its July 2007 "political pilgrimage," an 18-day tour of Israel and all of her neighbors. We have organized several "political pilgrimages" to the Middle East over the last ten years and would now like to extend the same opportunity to CNI Foundation supporters, friends and family who are interested in learning more about American foreign policy in the Middle East. The trip is limited to 10 people per pilgrimage; therefore, we urge those interested to apply as soon as possible. You can find out more here.


The CNI Foundation published a full-page color advertisement in the May/June 2007 issue of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. The ad promotes our full-page New York Times ads and two of our DVDs, "The Tipping Point" and "Islam and Democracy." It can be seen here.


Please help us honor the crew of the USS Liberty, the world's most sophisticated intelligence ship in 1967, on the 40th anniversary of Israel's two-hour attack in which 34 Americans were killed and 173 crewmembers were wounded.

WHEN: Friday, June 8, 2007 @ 4:00 pm *
WHERE: United States Navy Memorial, 701 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C.

*Following a meeting of the Liberty Veterans Association, a brief public ceremony will be convened to honor the 34 crewmembers who gave their lives, thank the survivors for their service and sacrifice, and apologize to the brave men who saved their ship for the betrayal of their own government in canceling the rescue mission and perpetrating an official cover-up that has continued for 40 years.

A flyer is available here. For more information, please contact the CNI Foundation Committee to Honor the Liberty Crew, Tel: 860-535-2487

Council for the National Interest Foundation
1250 4th Street SW, Suite WG-1 Washington, DC 20024
800.296.6958 202.863.2951 Fax: 202.863.2952