Sunday, September 12, 2010

Quran Burning = Muslims Burning + Video

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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Do Americans trust in US media ?

The following is the transcript of Press TV's discussion with Co-Director of International Action Center Sara Flounders, British Journalist Richard Millett and the western regional coordinator of “Act Now to Stop War and End Racism” (ANSWER) Coalition, Richard Becker on Israel's declining popularity in the US.

Press TV: The proportion of Americans who think Israel is committed to peace has dropped sharply since December 2007.

Just a few weeks after the Annapolis peace conference, 66 percent of respondents said the coalition headed by the then-prime minister Ehud Olmert was committed to peace. Now, in July 2010, in the latest figures that have been reported, it is less than half of Americans -- 49 percent.

In your view, what are the main reasons for this decline?

Millett: I think we have got to be careful with this poll because, the Israel Project [Organization] hasn't actually released this poll yet, it has only been reported by Ha'aretz, and we do not know the samples, we don't know who has been asked in the samples, and how big the sample is. It was polled by Stanley Greenberg who is a left wing democratic pollster. So, that would have a bearing on the result.

Now, taking these results at face value, having said all that; yes, if it is true, then only 39 percent are favoring [Israeli Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu over [former Israeli prime minister] Ehud Olmert at 66 percent. I think that Ehud Olmert went much further in his time with trying to -- as you spoke about the Annapolis peace process -- go towards peace, and starting it up.

It was not successful, it ended in a terrible Gaza War, and the Israelis voted in Netanyahu; there was a swing to the right. At the moment, I think the Israelis are more interested in security, there is an interest in peace, but security is at the top of the list. I think it has just been announced today by the Americans, that they are going to announce, a timetable for direct talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians as opposed to these proximity talks that are taking place.

Press TV: How important is American public opinion specifically, when it comes to US-Israeli relations and when it comes to how Israel is conducting itself in the Middle East as a whole?

Flounders: Well, of course, Israel could not exist one day, one hour, without the billions and billions of dollars that the US pumps into Israel militarily and economically. And the political and diplomatic support that it is giving unstintingly and the enormous support from US corporations and the US military industry, which can turn over these weapons, paid for by US tax dollars.

But the support for Israel is actually probably much lower than these polls from Ha'aretz. If they did a poll of college campuses in the US, or young people in the US today, the figures would be much, much lower. If they did it among those who are actively engaged in political movements of course, the support for Israel is completely collapsing because of the crimes that Israel has committed, that the world knows, against the Palestinian people.

So, that basis of support will continue to erode and that is despite the role of the US media to always give enormously favorable coverage to Israel and always to link the Palestinian people -- and especially the population of Gaza, totally surrounded and besieged, but to always link this population -- with terrorism.

So, the unequal coverage of the US media nevertheless is no longer able to sell Israel in a favorable light to a population here that is in desperate need of jobs, health care, that sees schools closing. There is more conscious opposition to giving billions -- a blank check-- to Israel.

Press TV: During the Gaza war at the turn of 2009, in England for example, there were many protests against the BBC's coverage. We didn't see that kind of protesting in America. Therefore is it surprising to see that so few Americans actually trust American media outlets, TV, news and newspapers?

Millet: Well, this wasn't a war on Gaza, this was a war on Hamas, this was a war against a terrorist organization that fired 7-8 thousand rockets into southern Israel and the rockets were getting closer to Tel Aviv, so this wasn't a war against the Palestinian people, this was a war against Hamas, specifically.

America and Americans generally identify with Israel. The amount of support that America gives to Israel washes its face and America gets back a lot of intelligence, [America] tests a lot of its equipment, unfortunately, in the heat of battle, which Israel has to do.

These statistics, you talk about 49 percent say that there is no need to support Israel, 51 percent therefore say they do need to support Israel. Now, what does 'need for support mean? It is a very ambiguous term -- to need to support.

If you go back at past recent polls, you are looking at 67 percent actually support Israel. And there is a huge swathe of support across most of America, not on the Liberal side but you have got the Christian Evangelical. There are 50-70 million Christian Evangelicals who are staunch supports of Israel in America and this is something that is not going to change.

And we have got to remember that this economic aid that you talk about is also given in billions to the Palestinian people, to Saudi Arabia, to Egypt -- well not necessarily to Saudi Arabia, it is obviously a rich country, but there is support there we are seeing the same sort of support given to Egypt. So you can't just look at Israel in isolation and specifically the Palestinians are supported very much as well.

I think I agree with you in the economic times, like we are seeing at the moment, is something I don't blame the Americans questioning where this money is going to.

Becker: That is an Israeli government point of view being represented there. I think what Richard Millet is saying is really the propaganda line of the Israeli government in regards to what happened, particularly what happened in Gaza, where the casualty ratio was 100:1.

It (the Gaza War) was a war against the entire population, which is the way that all of the Israeli wars have been carried out; with no regard whatsoever for the Palestinian population or the civilian population in other Arab countries. And then you hear from the Israeli officials a line that they are the most moral… that they are "the most moral army in the world."

This is sheer, big lie, propaganda and what happened there in Gaza and what has been left out of Mr. Millets presentation is the economic strangulation…the bombings, the targeted assassinations that went on year after year after year. And all we hear from him (Millet) is about what caused the war was the missiles that were fired from inside Gaza.

This was not a war against just one group, this was a war against the entire Palestinian population, a continuation of a war against the entire Palestinian population which has been going on now for more than sixty years and has resulted in the dispossession of the Palestinians, a dispossession that continues on the West Bank day after day.

Press TV: Mr. Millet, what we did see, whether you want to call it the Gaza War or as you say 'the war against Hamas,' or an offensive against Hamas, what we did see was public opinion across the world, including in America, we saw more protests than we have ever seen against any action by Israel, whether legitimate or not, we saw protests across Europe, we saw protests in America. It does seem that people increasingly believe that Israel's actions were not legitimate, they were not called for, that is something we are seeing reflected in these polls.

Millet: Well, I don't blame people coming up to protest. I mean what we saw during the attack, the war that took place in Gaza was horrific. You know, we were seeing on our televisions screens. But there was a reason why Israel had to go do what it did and this was because of the Hamas attack on Israel and in last five years, no one mentioned it, whilst these rocket attacks were taking place and coming into Israel. And there are reasons unfortunately why wars take place and Israel specifically targeted Hamas.

Flounders: Well, this is exactly why Israel is increasingly isolated today. In every sense it is exactly this line that is the reason that Israel is really the focus of such outrage and anger by people all over the world and increasingly here in the US. And it is also the reason why the US media is losing its credibility. It is standing its hold on its population here because the media pushes, twenty-four hours a day seven days a week US support for wars, whether it is in Iraq or Afghanistan or its support [for] Israel.

And increasingly the population here, facing real problems of a growing steady unemployment, of school closings, of a health crisis, is not buying it. And it really means that, as these polls show the growing institutions of the US today have less hold, less credibility with the average person because they only promote war and they only promote divisions. It is actually very encouraging that 50 percent of the media can see through this. That is really heartening if you really think about it, in a media that promotes war all the time.

Press TV: Mr. Millet touched upon the Christian Evangelical community in America, a huge community, a very powerful lobby as well. They have always been very supportive of Israel and it is very interesting that we are actually seeing statistics here that there are large proportion of American society that do support Israel, those proportions are much higher than those for example who trust the media.

Therefore where is this coming from, this trust, because many people say the media plays a big role in these lies or delusions?

Flounders: Yes, exactly, this is exactly true. The media plays a big role in promoting, whether it is the Tea Party or publicizing all across the country that disgusting Evangelical organization in Florida, calling for September 11 Burn the Quran Day. What an outrage, the protests in New York City against the building of a mosque and an Islamic center in lower Manhattan, near the World Trade Center, and now the response is coming overwhelmingly to these right wing bigoted hate groups that are promoted by the media. There is a whole growing coalition responding to the demonstrations and the protest plan on September 11 saying 'no lets end the hate and stand in solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters, stand against war and stand against the promotion of war.'

And so that kind of resistance, that kind of resistance on a big scale is going to be felt more and more among people who do not buy the lies from the US media and consciously seek a way to make their voice heard.

Press TV: Mr. Becker, with so few people trusting the media it would seem that many people are still influenced by it because you do see its impact, whether we are talking about the Tea Party movement even if it is Burn the Quran Day on September 11. What is the difference now between the people who actually trust in the media and the people who are impacted by it and whose thinking is influenced by what the American media says?

Becker: Well, I think one thing that needs to be pointed out is that even the people who are getting a lot of their media information, news information and the internet are getting it from the mainstream sources… so the mainstream media, the corporate media, the pro-Pentagon, pro-militarist media is still the dominant force among the media.

But what has happened and what is a big difference is that now people have access to many other forms of media and I think this is very clear. More and more are turning to other explanations to what is going on in the world and in the country. And that is a very encouraging development.

But still, it is very true that in the mainstream media, whether you read an Associated Press story on the newspaper or you read it online and that is just giving one example among many, the assurance that the United States is reaping its policies of aggression, of war, of militarism, of support for the state of Israel and for its other policies around the world, the idea that is conveyed in the media, in those media reports is still the same.

But we can see that that media is being chipped away at in a very serious way and that there is a mobilization of the people, like at the time of 2009 war against Gaza, there were thousands of protests inside the United States against the genocidal Israeli attack on Gaza.

Press TV: Mr. Millet, in essence what we are talking about then, is a widening of the scope of media that is available and that there are different points of view coming through.

Does the American media in particular reflect enough of these different points of view as one of the problems, that is, it doesn't do that. For example it talks much about Hamas, and its militancy sense and then says that they are a terrorist organization and it never does provide the other side of the story, which whether one agrees on or not, does exist.

Millet: Well, I think you get very critical newspapers in America about Israel, The New York Times and The Washington Post. But you know, to a certain extent, newspapers reflect the constituency in their readers and to go back to what I was saying, there is an identification with what is going on in the Middle East, support for Israel, support for what is happening in Afghanistan and so I think there is wide support still for Israel, whatever we have said before, my two colleagues talking on this program [Flounders, Becker] might not like it but it is a fact and as you said it yourself , there is huge Christian Evangelical support…

Flounders: Well, the US media and the institutions that support Israel are in every way losing their hold on the population in the US. So, US Corporate Rule is more and more dependent on military solutions; wars all over the world hundreds of bases, much stepped up political repression at home.

The largest prison population in the world is right now in the US; along with secret detentions and round ups and kidnappings, all of this is a sign that the media as a form of persuasion, is losing its hold, and US Corporate Rule is based more on political and military repression and that makes them extremely vulnerable because there is no government in the world and Israel should recognize this, that they are losing the support right here (in the US) because people increasingly stand with and sympathize with the Palestinian people. And they are also not willing to see Muslim people around the world so relentlessly targeted in the most bigoted and racist ways which happen in the media all the time, that is why the media is losing its support.

Refrence: PressTV