Sunday, May 29, 2011

Jason Koutsoukis' Very Dark Room

A picture from Gaza that didn't appear in today's Sunday Age
The letters section of today's Sunday Age includes a contribution by a Bill Mathew of Parkville who attacks the right wing American Fox Network controlled by Australia's Rupert Murdoch describing it as "a so-called 'news' network that repeatedly misinforms its audience (and) is failing any test of public service embodied by an ethical press."

It is more than somewhat ironic therefore that Mathew's letter appears in the same edition of the Sunday Age that contains an article by Jason Koutsoukis entitled "Egypt opens window in Gaza's dark room"which is emblematic of the smoke and mirrors treatment of the conflict between Israel and the Arabs by this journalist and in particular the misinformation spread about the situation of Gaza's population during the period of the closure of the enclave's borders by both Israel and Egypt since a violent coup placed the terrorist group Hamas in control of the Gaza Strip in May 2007.

The photograph attached to the article shows an Arab woman sitting near the Rafah crossing with a background of barbed wire and people screaming to get out of an impoverished overpopulated Gaza. The photographers used by this outfit have yet to visit the plush malls, the well stocked stores and the country clubs with swimming pools constructed in the enclave over the past four years.

The pictorial deception is overshadowed by Koutsoukis' words as he tells readers that one of the benefits of the opening of Gaza's border with Egypt is that it will enable 27-year-old Warda al-Larda to travel to Egypt for medical treatment.

"Six years ago I had one kidney removed, and now I need some special treatment, so I am going to the Nasser Institute in Cairo for an appointment."

Great news for Ms. al-Larda but if you're telling a story that the opening of the border to Egypt will give Gazans new opportunities to receive outside medical treatment why not also disclose that, despite the unresolved conflict, the suicide bombers and the missiles fired at Israeli citizens, thousands of Palestinians every year, many of them from Gaza, receive expert treatment in Israeli hospitals - 180,000 Palestinians treated in Israeli hospitals .

When this story came out late last year, it was ignored by the Age's Jerusalem Bureau chief so it's rather easy to ignore it again in this article. The truth that Sunday Age readers have not been told is that if Warda al-Larda had a need in the past four years to visit a medical specialist then the closure of Gaza's border would not have prevented her from receiving treatment at all.

So why is the story of Israeli humanitarian medical aid to the Palestinian people constantly ignored by the Fairfax media which is supposed to provide a balanced picture of events from the region?

Why not expose the humaitarian face of the Israeli people?

Perhaps the answer is contained in the opening paragraph of the Israel Today article referenced above.

"According to Israel's detractors it is a cruel and racist nation determined to oppress the Palestinians as much as possible. But medical authorities published another piece of evidence that Israel is anything but what its detractors say."

I think this is exactly what Bill Mathew means when he writes that a "news network that repeatedly misinforms its audience is failing any test of public service embodied by an ethical press."

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