Diplomacy, morality and media have failed the people of Gaza

Jan 17, 2024
Concept of military aggression, crisis in Gaza, Middle East.

Imagine this headline: “Brits bomb Belfast to obliterate IRA – 24,000 dead, 50,000 injured, all hospitals flattened – children limbless and starving”.

You have to engage your imagination to comprehend the unbridgeable gulf that exists between Israel as an entity committing alleged war crimes, and other, more civilised, nations – even those with their warts.

But in the monochrome mainstream media you will not find any invitation to understand what horror is unfolding in Gaza.

Paradoxically, in barely 100 days, proportionately more has been written about the war in Gaza than any other conflict. Overwhelmingly, it expresses horror and shock at the holocaust of death, injury, suffering and destruction perpetrated by Israel in its assault on the impoverished civilian population. But that’s as deep as it gets.

That Israel has a moral right to seek out and bring to justice the criminals who committed the unfathomable outrages of 7 October 2023, no civilised person would deny.

But they have abysmally failed, in a spectacular misjudgement of methodology and technique, preferring war and revenge to investigation, intelligence, justice and punishment.

That they felt they could do this to Palestinians, and get away with it, regardless of the world or its assumed norms, has been a demonstration of impregnable arrogance, almost unequalled among the nations.

Even without adverting to the elephantine “context” evoked by UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres last October, the reasons why Israel can and will get away with it, lie in the systemic failure of diplomacy and mainstream media.

The failure of the United Nations to change anything meaningful on the ground echoes the failure of the League of Nations to restrain Italy in Abyssinia in 1935, a paving stone to what followed in 1939.

A major war in Egypt was indeed averted in 1956 by Secretary General, Dag Hammarskjöld and President Eisenhower, but it required giants like them, a willing General Assembly and a UN Emergency Force, all features currently extinct on the world stage.

The nations that comprise the UN – with some notable exceptions have made a mockery of its mandate under the UN Charter “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war… unite to maintain international peace and security… ensure that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest… and take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of… acts of aggression…”

The failure of President Biden and Secretary of State Blinken has also been evident and almost wilful. With one eye on electoral donations, and the other on their own intrinsic sympathies, they have failed to do anything concrete to bring about a ceasefire. Without their overt support for Netanyahu, and therefore their covert support for alleged Israeli war crimes, the government of extreme right wing zealots would have fallen and something more intelligent would have replaced it.

Already standing in the graveyard, and evidently devoid of a functioning moral compass, Biden and Blinken have come as close as may be to supporting an “acceptable level” of death, suffering and destruction in Gaza, leaving it to the Israelis to determine when enough is enough.

Clearly, 24,000 is not yet enough for them.

Blinken’s shuttle diplomacy, whose effect has been merely to warn and threaten the Arabs from any form of intervention, has produced no material restraint on Israel.

This very failure has locked the US into a shameful level of complicity, while emboldening Israel to a sense of invulnerability and untouchability.

In a staggering exhibition of hypocrisy, the US has led other nations in emulating the Israelis by attacking Yemen from air and sea because of Houthi interference with commercial shipping. Criminal and pointless piracy though it is, it has not caused the loss of 24,000 seafaring lives.

The mainstream media has also abysmally failed the people of Gaza – and in doing so has failed the citizens of Israel who know not what they do to Palestine and its people.

A tiny number of well-vetted journalists are embedded with the Israeli military, reporting on the heroes in terms you might expect. But the Israeli government has, of course, otherwise banned journalists’ entry to Gaza.

There are no western journalists there. No one has snuck in under cover – after all, they too might be murdered in the indiscriminate bombing, shelling, starvation and disease. All reporting is from the comfort of a hotel in Jerusalem. No western journalistic titans will make their names in Gaza as they did in Vietnam.

Anyway, a satellite phone is a homing signal to a drone.

Who could criticise, but it shows how the Israelis have laboured, successfully, to control the narrative, 100 percent.
Except for Palestinian journalists on the ground.

But, as far as the western mainstream media is concerned, they are not publishable because they report things that must not be said.

It is reputably claimed that between 80 and 100 journalists have been killed during the war – possibly one a day – striving to report things that must not be said – including Lebanese and Israeli journalists, though the overwhelming majority have been Palestinian.

Finally, a closing failure – that of the Albanese government. Here’s another impossible headline: “Turkey bombs Anzac Cove – claims terrorists hiding there – 24,000 dead”. Would Australia have nothing to say? Would it squirm to hide under some anodyne condemnation from as big a collective as it could anonymously squeeze into?

And Gaza?

The HQ of the 2nd AIF was in Gaza. When the 8th Army won the Battle of El Alamein in November 1942, a fifth of the almost 14,000 dead, wounded or MIA, were Australians of the 9th Division holding the coast road and rail line. They held against ferocious attacks from Rommel. Australian wounded were treated at the 2/6th Australian General Hospital on Gaza Ridge. The Division departed from the old Gaza Airport in December 1942 for the war in New Guinea, leaving many Australians behind in the Gaza War Cemetery.

Gaza is part of Australian history – more recent and more relevant than Gallipoli, and it should matter more to us.

Has the cemetery been bombed by Israel? How would we know? And do we even care?

As Penny Wong heads for Israel this week, probably to echo the US request for an acceptable level of death and misery in Gaza, it is likely that her Foreign Affairs and Defence brief will lack most, if not perhaps all, of the information in this article.

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