Saturday, June 02, 2007

The pen, not the gun

Let’s leave aside the copious coverage of the Lina Joy's sad saga by malaysiakini for a while to look at a Star Online article.

Alison Weir was a former American freelance journalist who is now executive director of non-profit organisation called If Americans Knew, an organisation that provides Americans with unbiased information on Palestine.

Her organisation analyses media coverage of the conflict to ensure Americans are not subjected to only lop-sided news coverage on the Israel-Palestine conflict, which have generally shown the Palestinians in a bad light.

She related her personal experiences, saying that previously she had only skimmed through headlines on the Israel-Palestine conflict with “with little interest or knowledge on the subject.”

However, when the Middle-Eastern conflict became worse, she thought that she really bought to look into it a bit more, even working hard beyond her office hours to do so, and found to her disgust “that it was perhaps the most covered-up story”.

What she was saying was what we already knew, that Israeli aggressions, brutalities and human rights violations were glossed over or even omitted, whilst the Palestinian violence (and let’s be frank, there were Palestinian violence) were grossly emphasized.

Now, why isn't KTemoc surprised!

She said: “When I was there (Gaza strip and West Bank in 2001), I discovered that while the American news agencies were reporting on the deaths of Israelis, they were covering up deaths of many Palestinians.”

“For example, the cover up of Palestinian child deaths was 14 times greater and they got away with biased terminologies.”

As one Australian friend of mine wrote recently: "The news reported 2 Israelis killed by Palestinians but not the 50 Palestinians killed in the same incident by Israelis. The Israeli reprisal of 50 for 2 has been in the same manner as what the Nazis did to European resistance groups."

(and may KT add, that's apart from the evil of punishing the Palestinian families of suspected insurgents by demolishing their houses completely)

I remarked to my friend that the Israelis have learnt well from their Nazi oppressors to the extent that they are now the Nazis of the Middle East.

Back to Weir - she's in Malaysia to deliver a talk titled Deadly Distortion: American News Coverage of Israel-Palestine and its Effect on the Alleged “Clash of Civilisations”.

She said that since American taxpayers were spending over US$10 million a day on Israel, she believed Americans should be provided with a truer and accurate picture of what was happening there.

Basically she was alluding to the fact that good information provides for good decision making, which hitherto has been denied to American taxpayers because of dodgy news report.

President Carter's recently released book Palestine, Peace not Apartheid which criticises the Israeli State for behaving like the draconian former white supremacist Afrikaan country, has the same informative aim, directed at Americans.

Pubisher Weekly reviewed his book with this summary:

He explains that Israel has never complied with U.N. Resolution 242 and others; has never lived up to its agreements made over the years in Washington, Oslo and elsewhere; continues to grab land through settlements and placement of a wall well within Palestinian territory; and still imprisons thousands of Palestinian men, women and children.

While pointing out many murderous and counterproductive moves of Arafat and various Palestinian groups, he pointedly lays the blame for the current situation at the door of the Israelis and their Washington backers, with special venom for Bush and Rice, who have been mute on the subject for six years—even during the invasion of Lebanon. Many will dispute his facts and counter his views, but Carter maintains that if we really want to understand and promote change in this region, we must know both sides of the story.

And what did Zionist Jews and pro-Israeli neo-cons do when Jimmy Carter published his book? Did they rush out to fire automatic weapons in the air or burn caricatures of Carter. No, they wrote in or delivered presentations to criticise him, with the criticisms ranging from redneck accusations of him being a Jew-hater to highly intellectual discourses. On the site advertising his book, there were 602 comments (of course with some supporting him).

Incidentally, here’s a titbit to demonstrated the much praised Israeli democracy and free speech society - in 2002, Weir was incarcerated by the Israeli government and (subsequently, I suppose) also denied entrance.

Most of us know that the Israelis have been far cleverer than the Arabs – for example, they are effective in manipulating if not owning (some of) the media outlets. Even think-tanks like MEMRI exist to paint a constant evil picture of the Palestinians. Mind you, they do it in a very clever way – they would release extracts of actual news but which focus only on the bad aspects of the Palestinians.

It's called brain-washing, and it has been very effective. If you aren't an already biased and outraged Muslim, you would have to be fairly strong to resist that barrage of anti-Palestinian and pro-Israeli propaganda.

Their lobby groups are far more powerful and effective than the virtually non-existent Arab lobby groups (except for those which serve the interests of the royal fat cats of some Arab nations).

I believe the Arabs, in particular the Palestinians, could do less with firing their automatic weapons into the air (or jumping and shouting like a violent mob) and ‘fight’ their struggle more with the pen (through the media). al Jazeera has been a good but only initial step.

I heard that Dr Mahathir had tried to develop such a media outlet for independent news with an unbiased Asian perspective, though I was told his pioneering efforts only resulted in large bills from people who should have been in war-torn Iraq to report but instead were ensconced in luxurious Jordanian hotels.

Yes, the world's struggles would be better and more effectively fought with the pen. And it's not just this blogger ;-) saying that, for didn’t Bulwer-Lytton wrote in 1839 in his play ‘Richelieu’:

Beneath the rule of men entirely great,
The pen is mightier than the sword.


  1. There is no such thing as a completely free and independent media; most of them are tied to certain interest, just like in politics, it is mostly about self interest.
    Pen is certainly mightier than sword, which is why the spin doctors are geting much higher pay + business partnership than even real doctors who take care of people's health.

  2. Jimmy Carter and his foundation has done some very good humanitarian work all over the world. However, since his retirement, some of his political views have gone far to the left hand corner.
    Maybe he was like that all the time, just that when he was a sitting president, realpolitik meant that he had to moderate what he said in public.

  3. bruder, you are preaching to the converted here leh. we use pen, still they scared and accuse us for bashing! talk also kenot wan. sien.


  4. What do you expect the Israelis to do when surrounded by a hostile people who attack them at the earliest opportunity, try ceaselessly to wipe their country from the face of the earth and drive them into the sea? Read "Masada must not fall again" to understand why Jews all over the world return to fight when their country is attacked by the Arabs

  5. [cliche alert!]
    Two wrongs don't make one right.

  6. Let's imagine for a moment the Palestinians taking over Israel. There will be the introduction of a new "social contract" with the pre-eminence of muslims as the "Pivotal Race", an enforced NEP which allows the blatant racial discrimination against the jews, with 99% of civil servants comprising arabs, university quotas in favour of muslims and last but not least, the jews being told that if they do not like living in an islamic country, they can always "fuck off"....

    Now if you are a jew in Israel dodging Hamas rockets today, will you still think the way you do? Another MALAYsia, this time in the Holy Land? And after 30 yaers of NEP, be told that it will be continued indefinitely? What a joke!