By Vatsal Khandelwal
Edited by Namrata Caleb, Senior editor, The Indian Economist
“You take my water, burn my olive trees, destroy my house, take my job, steal my land, imprison my father, kill my mother, bombard my country, starve us all, humiliate us all but I am to blame: I shot a rocket back.” – The Old Man with a placard (The Independent, 18th November, 2012)
We’re very modern and the most modern of all of us is the media. It presents to us a tainted, skewed, false and malevolent projection of reality, something better known as news. The US government and the various media houses bought and funded by it run the world today. It’s a perfect plutocracy, a perfect combination of policy and implementation – Take the call. Kill the people. Pay me one hundred billion, I’ll keep shut.
Mainstream media has constantly mentioned instances of Hamas’ cruelty, Gaza breaking cease-fire agreements, kidnapping Israeli soldiers, maltreating them and everything terrible that you can think of. It was a relief to hear Noam Chomsky say in a recent interview that news can sometimes present true realities and facts. But Chomsky’s interview and anti-Israeli (anti-US, as per the corporate linkage) news is not even a small fraction of what constitutes information. And why should it? When a strong military state and the world’s most powerful country form a duopoly, no one cares if 1.816 million people are ransacked and tortured to death. A very small cost to pay for global peace and harmony, and that is what the elitist organizations work towards.
Consider this statement by the Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Nicholas Burns, who signed the Memorandum of Understanding on U.S. Military Assistance to Israel (giving 30 billion dollars to the Israeli government to buy joint strike fighters, Iron Domes and other peace maintaining equipment) – “We consider this 30 billion dollars in assistance to Israel to be an investment in peace; in long-term peace. Peace will not be made without strength. Peace will not be made without Israel being strong in the future. Of course, our objective as a country and our specific objective as a government is to contribute to that peace, a peace between Israel and the Palestinian people, the creation of an independent Palestinian state willing to live side by side in peace with Israel.” Before considering this 30 billion as an ‘investment in peace’ and arguing on technicalities (the 30 billion worth Iron Domes and arm slings are mechanisms to protect Israel from the rockets that flow in from Gaza, a country whose GDP is approximately 6 billion!), one should also know that a stock of US military equipment (worth 100 billion!) are stored in Israel. So, whenever we see Israeli jets flying over the Gaza strip in our small television sets, we should know that they aren’t Israeli jets, they just have Israeli pilots in them. We should also know that total military assistance (terror funding assistance, rather) given by the US to Israel is more than the sum total of all aid and assistance ever given to Gaza by all international institutions combined. It is more than five times the Gross Domestic Product of the Gaza strip.
We don’t have a count of how many Palestinians have been tortured to death; we don’t have a count of how many US tax payers have unknowingly funded those deaths. All we have a count of is how many Israelis died because of a rocket hitting their property. “The UN reports that 2879 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire from April 2006 through July 2012, along with several dozen Israelis killed by fire from Gaza.” I must reiterate – six years of constant conflict – Israel – 2879 and Gaza – several dozen. It’s very unfortunate that a count of human lives has to be presented in a football match type score point format, but given the badly informed world we live in and the one sided ‘story’ we all choose to believe, some facts need to be unearthed and some truths need to be brought out (even if this is done in the most disgraceful way possible). The old man probably knows that his placard did more for him than the rockets ever could, but when injustice, misery, grief and anger takes over his life, however unjustified it may be, violence becomes the norm. And such a norm for several such individuals becomes a societal norm. And such a societal norm gives way to wars, devastation and conflict. All because of two countries desperately trying to achieve their desperate economic objectives while a third one struggles to survive. Chomsky could not have been more right when he called it a fatal triangle. The sold conscience of the world often chooses to look through the plight of the third vertex.
In his interview with Amy Goodman, Noam Chomsky mentions “Israeli experts have calculated in detail exactly how many calories, literally, Gazans need to survive. And if you look at the sanctions that they impose, they’re grotesque. They’re sadistic. Just enough calories to survive. And, of course, it is partly metaphoric, because it means just enough material coming in through the tunnels so that they don’t totally die. Israel restricts medicines, but you have to allow a little trickle in.” Not only this, Israel has also been restricting water supply to the Palestinians (rural Palestinians have a 20 litre per person daily water supply while Israeli counterparts have a 300 litre per person daily supply). The practice of inflicting torture in its varied formats has seeped into the Israel-Gaza conflict zone. What is most amusing is that the country that supports Israel (and funds its human right violations) is the country that has also ratified the Geneva Convention. However, in a world run by power, money and Barack Obama, violations of conventions are not big issues. The media turns a blind eye to it and we are expected to do the same.
One of the biggest failures of the twenty first century and undoubtedly one of the biggest causes of any of the recent massacres/conflicts in the world is the media. In the process of selling itself and selling information confidentiality, it doesn’t realize how enormous a role it has to play. Imagine that a teacher or say a doctor, realizes that a proportion of their income was used to kill children sleeping quietly in their homes, in a secluded conflict-zone in the Middle-East. Further imagine, if that teacher/doctor comes home and sees that violence on his television. He is literally buying the news (cable bill) and also producing it through his own small tax contribution! Not many US citizens are aware that their country is playing big brother to an autocratic military state and going against its own Bill of Rights and extracting revenue out of their hard earned incomes. Not many of US citizens know that their country has tacitly committed more war-related crimes than Saddam Hussein ever did (be it East Timor, Chile, Nicaragua or Gaza). Not many of them know that their president puts up a farce of being humanitarian and side by side funds the sociopathic war on Gaza as well. Thankfully, writers like Paul Street exist and thankfully, ‘independent, investigative, journalism’ is not dead. Street uses a Shakespearean quote that describes the dichotomous frame of opinions the US President has (or maybe he has one single viewpoint and the other is pure showbiz)
“False face must hide what the false heart doth know. To show an unfelt sorrow is an office, which the false man does easy” – William Shakespeare, Macbeth
Gaza is not just a victim of US corporatism, Israeli barbarism and UN ignorance. It is not just a victim of hundreds of billions worth weaponry or artificially imposed resource constraints. It is a victim of failed conscience (or maybe the sheer absence of it), which has been inflicted upon society by a community of horrendous plutocrats and a plethora of ‘false men’ who are daily sitting in their offices, buying information and selling human lives. This is Plutocracy 2014, a small number of men stamping over the entire world’s interests, investing in peace, global harmony and an unending supply of ammunition.