Spain, Netanyahu, & The Press

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Image from Benjamin Netanyahu’s Twitter page

Yesterday, a judge in Spain issued an arrest warrant for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  Thus, if Mr. Netanyahu sets foot in Spain he could be subject to arrest and detention from Spanish authorities.  The outstanding warrant also includes: Foreign Minister Avigdor Leiberman, ex-Defense Minister Ehud Barak, former Interior Minister Eli Yishai, former Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Yaalon, Minister without Portfolio Benny Begin, and Vice-Admiral Maron Eliezer.

This situation stems from an incident in 2010 when several ships attempted to bring aid to the Gaza Strip and thus break an Israeli blockade.  Although there were no major incidents with the other ships, when the Israeli forces boarded the Mavi Marmara, nine people were killed in the ensuing struggle and a tenth died later.

However, one aspect of the story that I find particularly fascinating is how various news outlets are reporting it.  Right-wing sources, like Fox News and Breitbart, seem to paint the Israeli defense forces in a positive light while left-wing sources, such as The Huffington Post and the Independent, do the opposite.

For example, here is an excerpt from Fox:

In the 2010 incident, a group of human rights activists — which included members affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, according to authorities – boarded several aid ships to try and break an Israeli naval blockade of the Gaza Strip, the Jerusalem Post reports.

Israel’s navy was able to stop several of the ships without incident, but its commandos were attacked when boarding the Mavi Marmara, leaving 10 activists dead in an ensuing gun battle.

Note that it mentioned that some of the activists were affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood and that the Israeli forces were the ones being attacked.

Compare that to The Huffington Post:

The case was brought against the men after an attack by Israeli Defence Forces on the so-called ‘Freedom Flotilla’ ships, which were sailing to Gaza from Istanbul and Greece in support of Palestinian settlements.

The long-fought legal battle was focused on the ‘Mavi Marmara’ ship – the head civilian vessel among a fleet carrying humanitarian aid in an attempt to break the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Nine activists were killed in the incident in which the ship was stormed by IDF personnel.

In this version, the story goes that the ship was both civilian and humanitarian and was attacked by the Israeli Defense Forces.

In the first story, those breaking the blockade seem to be the bad guys; in the second, it is those enforcing the blockade.

But which is the truth?  Was the blockade legal or illegal?  Were the ships attempting to bring humanitarian aid or weapons to the people of Gaza?  Did the ships provoke the Israeli Defense Forces or was it the other way around?  Did the Israelis have the right to board these ships?  Did the ships have a right to defend themselves?

Unfortunately, your answer to all of these questions may hinge upon what news outlet you choose to read the story.  Presumably liberals would get the liberal version of the events while conservatives get the conservative one.  With these slanted and biased sources objectivism and truth can fall by the wayside depending on whether you wish to show the Israelis as doing everything they can to protect their people from the horrors of terrorism or a group of humanitarians bringing critical aid to a people under the heel of brutal oppression.

So again, what is the truth?  Are the Spanish authorities acting correctly in this matter or is it the Israeli leaders who are in the right?  How can we know?  Do we simply let Fox News and the Huffington Post decide for us?

Spin Away A Win

In yesterday’s California straw poll Ron Paul won a commanding victory capturing almost as many votes as Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, and Michele Bachmann combined.  The final vote totals are as such:

Ron Paul 374 votes or 44.9%

Rick Perry 244 votes or 29.3%

Mitt Romney 74 votes or 8.8%

Michele Bachmann 64 votes or 7.7%

The rest of the candidates finished with less than twenty votes apiece.

Given how the media has been hyping the results of previous straw polls you’d think that this one would be a big deal as well.  Although the various outlets are reporting this poll, a few are also quick to dismiss the impact of this particular poll.  For example, Politico reported that “it was not a prize that most campaigns were organizing for” and “Paul camp had brought in busloads of people to vote.”  Fox News repeated Politico’s earlier line in their story while MSNBC attempted to downplay the victory by repeating Politico’s statement that “it was not clear how much effort each of the other candidates put into winning the poll”.

As I stated prior to the Ames poll last month, I don’t take too much stock in straw polls.  None of these votes are binding and should serve primarily to motivate the campaigns, candidates, and activists.  Nevertheless, I believe that the primary point of the major media is to report issues objectively without spinning the issue to favor their cause or candidate.  Facts are facts, but when the media masquerades their opinions as if they were truth, one does have to question their ability to report without bias.  Of course, one can see a long history of such actions with even with the most superficial of glances at the 2007/08 campaign season.

Now, you might argue that I’m operating under a double standard here, but I’ve been quite clear time and time again that my choice for president is Dr. Paul.  Any article that I write concerning this issue should be viewed with the knowledge that it is crafted through a pro-Paul lens.

I congratulate Ron Paul and his campaign for their victory in California yesterday.  I hope that they are able to use that win to increase fundraising, activism, and excitement for the effort.  Although it is not a monumental victory, one should not completely dismiss it either.  Paul and his supporters are a growing force in the political dialogue.

But, then again, that’s just my 2¢.