Gaza Flotilla

I wrote this piece about a week ago, but I hesitated to post it, since its serious nature is out of keeping with the generally frivolous tone of this blog. I vaguely know a couple of people who were on board the Gaza flotilla though, and I figured that if they were willing to risk a bullet in the head, the least I could do was to show a little solidarity.

Since I’m coming to this late there’s probably no point in repeating the case for ending the Gaza blockade (even the US administration has come out against it) or going over the Israeli assault on the flotilla (you can read eyewitness accounts here and here, and watch unedited video here). Anyone who hasn’t thought about how the incident illuminates the nature of the Israeli state can read an insightful essay on the subject here.

The internet is supposed to have made it harder for the powerful to get away with outrages like this, by democratising the flow of information. That’s true to some extent, but it’s also the case that, thanks to the speed of modern communication, the old saying “‘A lie is halfway round the world before the truth has got its boots on” has never been more accurate. What’s even more disheartening is that the multiplicity of news sources doesn’t seem to have broadened minds – instead of seeing things from another point of view, people just shop around until they find a newsfeed that confirms their existing prejudices.

I guess I am as susceptible to this as anyone, though I do try to take in more than just Indymedia and the Weekly Worker. I tend to get my information via Google News, which usually links to a fair spectrum of opinion, though of course I must consciously and unconsciously select what I click on.

Looking in my browser history for the last few days I see the BBC, The Guardian, The Times, The Telegraph, The Independent, The Herald, The Scotsman, Salon, The LA Times, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, The Houston Chronicle, Al Jazeera, Xinhua, AP, Reuters, AFP and the CBC. Now, Al Jazeera and Xinhua aside, I would characterise those outlets as largely conservative, western, mainstream media, which in theory should counterbalance my habitual far-left outlook, but in this case, none of the facts reported by any of these sources would seriously undermine the argument that Israel is guilty of an unjustified act of aggression.

Facts don’t always carry the day though, and exposure to information that challenges one’s existing opinions doesn’t necessarily change one’s mind. If anything the evidence suggests that it does just the opposite.

So maybe this post is a waste of time, since anyone who disagrees with the view that the Israeli state is out of control is unlikely to change their ideas after reading what I think. Still, I can hope that what I’ve written and linked to may go a little way towards convincing at least a few people to think about opposing the Gaza blockade, and supporting a just peace for Palestine.

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