Friday, June 04, 2010

What Happened on the Mavi Marmara

The PR aftermath of the Gaza flotilla incident has not been edifying for people who worry about the future of Israel, the media, or the truth.

Anyway, the media apparently believes that the interests of journalism, the truth, and its readers has been served by covering the story for about 48 hours. Not coincidentally, for those 48 hours, Israel had the airwaves to itself, having detained the flotilla members incommunicado in Israel for that period.

The Israeli narrative emerging from that furious 2-day blitz is a reprise of the "intelligence failure" dodge employed by the United States to excuse the Iraq invasion. Faulty execution is blamed for an unfortunate cock-up during which a bunch of people got killed.

The "tactical failure" storyline for the Gaza flotilla involves unprepared, underarmed, and naive commandos abseiling into the hands of an vicious mob.

That sounds a lot better for Israel than what appears to be the actual story: Israeli ships and helicopters raked the Mavi Marmara with tear gas, flash grenades, rubber-jacketed steel bullets, and live ammunition, killing and wounding several people, to soften it up prior to boarding; their commandos descended on the ship and got the worst of it for a few minutes as a few infuriated and and terrified activists tried to fight back with steel bars they had wrenched from the ship's railings and the occasional deck chair; after more bloodshed the passengers raised the white flag and the vessel was subdued.

One of Al Jazeera's correspondent on the Mavi Marmara, Jamal Elshayyal emerged from detention in Israel to give a teleconferenced account of the assault from Istanbul.

At 3:20 in the clip, this exchange occurs between the Al Jazeera anchor and Elshayyal:

Anchor: I want to ask you about a sequence of events because we've heard from the Israelis on a number of occasions that they did not fire live ammunition until the weapons of two Israeli soldiers were taken away on board. In other words, it couldn't have happened until Israeli soldiers themselves were on the Mavi Marmara...

Elshayyal: There is no doubt from what I saw that live ammunition was fired before any Israeli soldier was on deck.

I wonder if the accounts of Elshayyal and other passengers on the flotilla will gain any traction.

In response to the blizzard of Israeli spin and prevarication--and an unwillingness to dig into the testimony of the emerging flotilla witnesses, whose cameras were seized by the Israelis-- the media seems to be retreating to the comfortable and safe ground of "Fog O' War".

The LA Times dutifully threw dirt on the grave of the flotilla story in its June 4 coverage. A photo caption reads: "Amid widespread anger, some were willing to reserve judgment. "We don't know which side is right. We don't accurately know what really happened," one mourner said.

Actually, it looks pretty clear what really happened.

The Israeli armed forces attacked a Turkish flag vessel in international waters.

That is the real issue, one that the Israeli media operation is working determinedly to obscure--with the happy cooperation of the international media--by diverting attention to the who-shot-whom-when-and-where-and-how-badly-did-the-victim-deserve-it conundrum.


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