Israelis United on Cast Lead (except for the Arab ones)

Posted on January 13, 2009



Anti-Arab Grafitti in Hebron

A January 13th New York Times article  “Israelis United on War as Censure Rises Abroad”, bears the following head-scratcher:

For many of the 1.4 million Israelis who are Arabs, the war has produced a very different feeling, a mix of anger and despair. The largest demonstration against the war so far, with some 6,000 participants, was organized by an Arab political party. But that is still distinctly a minority view. Polls have shown nearly 90 percent support for the war thus far, and street interviews confirm that Israelis not only favor it but do so quite strongly.[the NYT’s head count for the demonstration is remarkably smaller than even the right wing Jerusalem Post’s estimate of 10,000. Agence France Press estimated the number at 100,000 and called it the largest Israeli Arab protest in years. Hundreds were arrested]

How is this possible? One wonders. Palestinians with Israeli citizenship make up about 20% of the population. Just how could a poll find that 90 percent of Israelis support the operation. At the very least this would mean that 100% of the Israeli public favors the war, and that the 10% who don’t are all Palestinian Israelis (and undercounted to boot).

The poll was conducted by the oddly named Geocartographic Institute for Spatial Research, which, apparently, is not  an organization devoted to intra-dimensional exploration, but a polling institute. I couldn’t find an actual link or any article which linked to it, even a Jerusalem Post article that orginally reported it did not produce a link.

This odd poll result does bring up some important questions about the New York Times headline. The poll is not provided by the Times, nor does it refer to the fact that the poll was conducted at the beginning of the operation (December 31st) before the ever-escalating horrendous loss of life began in earnest. In fact, the article, as noted,  is very clear that at least 20% of the Israeli public wholeheartedly opposes the war.  And, perhaps most egregiously, while the article notes that the Israeli Arab demonstrations were organized by an Arab party, it does not explain that the Knesset, January 12, banned Arab parties from participating in upcoming elections.

The remainder of the piece focuses on one on one interviews with the editor of the Jerusalem Post and other papers, who opine that Israel is of one mind concerning the attack, despite the carnage. Its  never revealed,  of course, that Israel has a surprisingly non-democratic Israeli Military Censor for issues dealing with the Israeli military. Col. Sima Vaknin once told the AP:

“I can, for example, publish an order that no material can be published. I can close a newspaper or shut down a station. I can do almost anything,”

That same extraordinarily overlooked Associated Press article reveals that:

“The Associated Press has agreed, like other organizations, to abide by the rules of the censor, which is a condition for receiving permission to operate as a media organization in Israel. “

While the article implies that only certain kinds of information can be censored, this Youtube clip [h/t William] begs to differ [note the video is from a CBC piece aired during the Israeli siege of Bethlehem, which seems like an eternity ago]:

My god, the things they don’t tell you.

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