One of the reasons people get upset when confronted with the torrent of malevolent and one-sided ravings from the Guardian, is the fear that it somehow influences public opinion, and ultimately government action, given that Britain, and the EU, are made up of democracies that reflect public opinion. The Guardian’s circulation is only about 300,000 copies, but obviously it’s widely read and influential in places such as the BBC newsroom where it can influence the way in which other, perhaps less obviously biased and more reasonable, journalists get their information.
So the recent flotilla coverage, disproportionate in its volume, intensity, mendacity and spitefulness (see CIF Watch’s recent summary) would be a good test for whether it actually has the desired, or any, effect. My thesis is that people are not stupid, and that most of them can detect hysterical, one-sided, special pleading when they see it. There’s been a recent test of this.
Yesterday the European Foreign Affairs Council issued a statement on the Flotilla incident and the Middle East generally. This was surely a test for the Guardian and its campaign to delegitimize and isolate Israel. The Guardian itself seems to have thought so because these two paragraphs from its June 14 article were its preview of the expected statement:
“Since the flotilla assault, world attention has shifted to Israel’s blockade of Gaza. Pressure on Israel to ease it will intensify today when EU foreign ministers are expected to adopt a robust position. Spain, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency, will press for a vigorous approach, with support from France, Italy and the UK. The Spanish prime minister, José Luis Zapatero, called at the weekend for a strong joint EU position on the siege.
Zapatero said his foreign minister, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, would argue at the meeting that the EU should stand up for the end of the blockade on Gaza and extend all its political and diplomatic capacity to reach that goal.”
But here’s the thing. The statement, when issued, was a model of good sense, balance and, yes, concern for Israel’s position. I challenge any reasonable reader to find a word in it to disagree with. It called for “credible international participation” in an investigation of the incident, thus indicating that the Israeli enquiry, conducted by a retired Supreme Court Justice, with two international observers met the EU’s requirement for a “full and impartial enquiry”. More significantly, it called for “an immediate, sustained and unconditional opening of crossings for the flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods and persons to and from Gaza including goods from the West Bank” (my emphasis). There was no call for the shipping blockade to be lifted, nor any demand for free access via the crossings to anything that Hamas and its Guardian supporters, not to mention its Turkish sponsors, would like to import.
For good measure, the statement “deplored continuing acts of rocket fire [from Gaza]” and called on “all those responsible [to] take immediate and concrete steps to cease and prevent such violence.” It also called for the immediate release of Gilad Shalit, and demanded Red Cross access to him. It also called on Hamas to “end its interference with the operations of NGOs and UN agencies in Gaza”. Given the Guardian’s selective reporting, this part of the statement must have come to anyone dependent on it for news, as a complete mystery.
Finally, the Council also agreed at its meeting that European Union leaders will push ahead with plans for tighter sanctions against Iran on Thursday, including measures to stem investment in the oil and gas sector and Tehran’s refining capability.
Read the whole thing. What’s not to like?
Now, put yourself in the position of the Guardian, its hate-filled editors, and its assorted gang of contributors and correspondents suffering from acute IDS (Israel Derangement Syndrome). After all that effort, all that conscious suppression of the facts and misrepresentation of reality, wishful thinking and spite, what is there to show for their efforts? Absolutely nothing. If they can’t influence European Foreign Ministers, on an issue of little real importance to European interests, who can they influence? And they can’t even put this down to AIPAC or the Board of Deputies or the “Israel Lobby” or “Likudniks”. How must they be feeling this morning? No wonder they’re continually beside themselves.