I read a number of articles today about the flotilla, in a desultory sort of way - generally agreeing with all of them, from Gideon Levi's editorial to the Guardian editorial, Robert Fisk and the blogs. I listened to Al Jazeera, heard MK Haneen Zoubi's press conference and watched the Israeli Channel 10 TV news. Channel 10 is often a bit less biased than the others, but they managed very well to keep up the Israeli side of the story, spreading a new rumor that the Turks who attacked the soldiers were possibly Al-Qaida operatives. They poked fun at the 25 trucks full of humanitarian aid, that was already on its way from the Ashdod port for Gaza as just a quarter of what the army allows through every day, without questioning what may have been in the containers (items such as expensive electric wheel chairs have been mentioned elsewhere). It was also curious that Egypt's opening of its border with Gaza now, "for an unlimited period" received only a casual mention, whereas this is no doubt something significant. Why at least that border could not be opened before, and why tunnels became necessary even for transporting trivial items, has continued to puzzle me.
The Jerusalem Post also has few words of criticism, other than the manner in which the event was handled from a public relations perspective. They complained that the Israeli navy's photos came in just in time for the local TV news, but too late to convince the world media. I would agree that Israel manages to convince its people of its version of events much more effectively than it manages to convince anyone else. This creates a dangerous gap between the unique way that Israelis see their situation and the way almost everyone else in the world sees it. Both of these perspectives may be a little one-dimensional. But the gap between them is growing wider.*
Finally tonight we have some hard facts and numbers regarding the activists and the number of those killed. This came about because, mercifully, Israel decided to back down and deport them all immediately.
* Patrick Cockburn in The Independent (June 2) say the same in PR dangerously distorts the Israeli sense of reality "The problem is that nobody believes Israeli propaganda as much as Israelis. Pro-Palestinian activists often lament the fluency and mendacity of Israeli spokesmen on the airwaves and the pervasive influence of Israel's supporters abroad. But, in reality, these PR campaigns are Israel's greatest weakness, because they distort Israelis' sense of reality. Defeats and failures are portrayed as victories and successes."
* See also the interview by Mario Vargas Llosa of Haaretz journalist Gideon Levy: "The media in Israel, most of them, are the biggest collaborators to the occupation. There is no censorship in Israel, almost none. There is something that is much worse than censorship, self-censorship, because in self-censorship there is never resistance. Were it government censorship, there would be resistance, but this is self-censorship. This is a tyranny of ratings, the tyranny of those who want to please the readers, the tyranny of selling newspapers and not bothering the readers with things they don't want to read."
In the same newspaper, Levy's statements are backed up Amos Schocken: Haaretz publisher: Self-censorship is greatest threat to press freedom: Amos Schocken tells conference sponsored by the French Embassy in Israel in cooperation with Haaretz that many journalists are concerned about alienating their readers.
I'm not sure that it is simply deliberate self-censorship or willful manipulation. It is at least partly an unconscious self-participation in mass illusion on the part of the journalist. People, including journalists, basically see what we want to see and hear what we are open to hearing. Thus, Haaretz writer Liad Shoham heard a different version of MK Hanin Zoubi's press conference than the one I heard.