“Perspective is everything.“
Globe and Mail advertising slogan
The Toronto Globe and Mail claims that it provides its readers with the most comprehensive “perspective” on the news. Such self-serving statements must be taken with mass quantities of salt, but when compared to, say, the National Post, the claim certainly seems to have a grain of truth.
Under imperial edict, at the Post and throughout Israel Asper’s CanWest empire, “perspective” is whatever Asper says it is. On the Middle East, that amounts to: no criticism of Israel; slavish support for U.S. militarism; and denigration of Arabs and Muslims as “terrorists.” In this one-sided universe, reason and debate are deliberately pre-empted. “Propaganda is everything,” you might say.
In contrast, Globe editorials have criticized Israel; Arabs and other non-zionists can have their say on the commentary pages; Rami Khouri, editor of Lebanon’s The Daily Star, appears occasionally; and Harper’s publisher John MacArthur writes a monthly essay from an informed, liberal perspective.
This rosy comparison, though, is an illusion. Perspective is a normative, not a comparative, concept; that is to say, a newspaper doesn’t have perspective just because another one does not. Besides, any paper looks good compared to the Post. A newspaper that promises to deliver perspective must fulfill this promise by the way it reports and analyses news. On this score, the Globe falls woefully short of its boast.
All reporting and commentary on Arabs and Israel is filtered through a Jewish prism, as is the case in all Canadian media. The prism refracts uncomfortable light from zionist criminality and Arab suffering. In short, Arabs and Muslims make the news, but only as demonized stereotypes in a zionist theatre of the absurd. No unbiased, human Arab/Muslim “perspective” is permitted. We see no stories about torture in Israeli prisons, the systematic humiliation and beating of Palestinians, or even criticism of zionist pronouncements.
On the other hand, no limits are placed on pro-Israeli and pro-Jewish hysterics. This bias is most overt in the opinion pages, which are larded with neo-con zionists: Marcus Gee, Margaret Wente, Rex Murphy and Norman Spector. The only critical voice belongs to Rick Salutin.
The ethical shortcomings of the Globe‘s “amen corner” deserve to be treated in a separate column, but two selections from Gee are necessary to illustrate the failure of the Globe to distinguish legitimate opinion from transparent propaganda.
In his March 20, 2003, column “Bush wages desperate war” Gee delivers an uncritical, boosterish commentary on George W. Bush’s pretext for invading Iraq: “‘We have no ambition in Iraq,'” Mr. Bush countered, ‘except to remove a threat and restore control of that country to its own people.’ That opened the door to the key part of Mr. Bush’s address, indeed the key to U.S. motives for waré. not oil, not imperialism, but fear of attack.”
Fact is, the U.S. government did not fear an Iraqi attack, and Iraq had neither the reach nor the armament to harm the U.S.
As for the U.S. having no ambition in Iraq, this is simply dishonest. During the 1980s, the Reagan administrations tried and failed to get Saddam Hussein to allow Bechtel to build a pipeline from Iraq to the port of Aqaba. Bechtel stood to gain handsomely from construction, and George Schultz was its president before he became Reagan’s Secretary of State. It’s also where Schultz works now.
No surprise, then, that Bechtel was quietly awarded a $680-million, 18-month reconstruction contract in Iraq-the first contract awarded-and it could lead to a long-term deal worth $100 billion or more. (For more on this corruption, see Bob Herbert’s April 14 and 21 columns in the New York Times.)
On the subject of Palestine, “There can be no right of return” (Jan. 4, 2001) contains too many errors and conspicuous omissions to list, but the most heinous concerns the notion that Arabs have no right of return.
From November 1947 to May 15, 1948, Jewish invaders dispossessed 300,000 to 350,000 Arabs and by December 1948, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said the real number was close to 800,000. Gee makes no mention of this dispossession, and dismisses the event as “tragic” history.
To add insult to ignorance, Gee wrote that Israel must accept “some responsibility” for the plight of the Palestinians, allow some refugees to return, and compensate others.
If he had done his homework, he would know that on May 11, 1949, Israel unconditionally accepted the Palestinians’ right of return, and their right to receive financial compensation. This admission came with the signing of General Assembly Resolution 273, by which Israel was granted membership in the United Nations.
But why should Gee care about historical accuracy? He was one of four journalists to receive B’nai Brith Canada’s 2002 Award of Distinction for Excellence [sic]. It makes you wonder whose perspective the Globe allows Gee to promote.
The failure of Globe‘s news reporting is perhaps worse, because the effect of the Jewish prism is insidious. Value-laden phrases like “Palestinian militants,” in staff and wire copy, are routinely juxtaposed against neutral terms like “Israeli forces,” and “terrorism” is given a zionist connotation. In this skewed light, the Arab/Muslim perspective is rendered invisible.
Gordon Murray of the International Solidarity Movement reports that 75 percent of Israeli deaths are reported, compared to five percent of Palestinians, yet Palestinians make up 75 percent of the casualties. Such tendentious reporting sustains the illusion that Israeli security, not Israeli murder, is the major cause of violence.
Thus, we read condemnation after condemnation of “suicide bombers” but little or nothing about the state-sanctioned zionist cruelty that compelled these people to sacrifice their lives.
Typical of this bias is Paul Adams’ Jan. 6 piece “Israel hit by twin bombs,” in which he dutifully regurgitates the spin-doctored utterances of Israeli spokesmen. “Likud is committed to tough military tactics in response to terrorism. After Mr. Sharon called last night’s cabinet meeting, but before the apparent reprisal in Gaza, a spokesman said the attacks proved that Israel has no other choice but to fight terrorism with ‘a fury.'”
Later, Adams writes sympathetically of Israel’s assassination of Palestinian militants as a step “to crush the organizations behind the attacks.” Five zionists, including Bush, are cited but we hear from only one Arab near the bottom in a throwaway sentence. What caused the bombing? We don’t know, and aren’t meant to know.
The Globe does not provide a full spectrum on Middle East news, which means its boast about perspective cannot be taken seriously, at least while it views the Middle East through a Jewish prism.
Mr. Greg Felton is a Canadian writer on the Middle East, and the author of an upcoming book on Osama bin Laden. His “Mind over Media” column appears every month in the Greater Vancouver Arabic/English newspaper al Shorouq. He can be reached at