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?

Debate Sans Goodlatte

On Monday, I got a brief email from the local Shenandoah Valley Tea Party.  It told me that the candidates for the 6th district House of Representatives Seat were having a debate.  Being the political animal that I am, I made certain to be free during that time so that I could participate.  Here was my chance to listen to all three candidates for office and ask them about specific issues.  I thought that the notice was written rather strangely.  It read, “At 7:30 PM, Tuesday, the 26th, Stuart Bain, Libertarian candidate for Virginia’s 6th district will be debating his opponents in the Memorial Hall Auditorium at James Madison University.”  Although I know that Representative Goodlatte did not return the Tea Party’s candidate survey, it seemed a bit strange to me that they did not mention the sitting Congressman by name in the debate announcement, but rather used the term “Bain’s opponent”.  Therefore, shortly before the debate, I called Representative Goodlatte’s Harrisonburg office to make certain that he would be attending the event.  Unfortunately, I was informed that he was not going to be there.  Despite this considerable disappointment, I still showed up.

Vanke on the left, Bain on the right

Overall, I thought the debate itself went pretty well.  Both Jeff Vanke and Stuart Bain tackled a number of issues ranging from balancing the federal budget, immigration, and various disagreements they have with Congressman Goodlatte’s positions.  As one of many questions from the audience, I appreciated the opportunity to ask the candidates about their positions regarding the war on terrorism. Before I conclude, I want to thank JMU and acknowledge their efforts in hosting the event.  For more coverage on the specifics of the debate, you can visit both hburgnews and whsv.

As I’ve stated many times in the past, in order for our form of government to survive, we must have an informed electorate.  Toward that end, before you vote on Tuesday I encourage you to visit the websites of all three candidates to learn more about them.  As the debate was supposed to highlight, you can choose between the Republican Goodlatte, the Libertarian Bain, or the Independent Vanke.  You should vote, but you should vote smart.