Sitting here in Jerusalem, it can be frustrating to see how events in our part of the world get repackaged to meet the needs of certain agenda-driven media people.
I don't know Ed O'Loughlin, have never met him and don't expect to agree with him on many things. But this morning's O'Loughlin piece, filed from Rafah and published in today's Age and SMH, sets an appalling new low. It's at http://www.theage.com.au/news/world/gazans-prepare-for-israeli-onslaught/2006/06/27/1151174200150.html . (Reproduced below)
O'Loughlin's presentation isn't factually incorrect, at least not in obvious ways. But it's so partisan, so driven by a personal view of who's right and who's wrong in this conflict, that it qualifies as a showcase example of agenda-driven writing. Nothing wrong with that either. My wife Frimet and I also have an agenda - exposing terrorism and its overt and covert supporters. But when we publish - which we do everyday via our blog This Ongoing War, we don't pretend to be doing anything other than advocating an important cause.
Mr O'Loughlin, on the other hand, pretends to be an objective presenter of reality. No spin, no prejudice, no advocacy, nothing subjective - halilah. But in reality, he's doing all of the above, and in a way that I think is both improper - given his title - and dishonest - given the facts and context he's failing to report.
You would probably not guess, sitting in far-away Australia, just how much Israelis have come together in their determination not to give the terrorists a victory by default in these past few days. There's a rare consensus about the urgency and the moral imperative of getting a kidnapped Israeli soldier released one way or another. And also agreement, in my view wall to wall, about protecting Israel's southern communities, particularly those within firing range of Gaza.
You wouldn't guess this, and Mr O'Loughlin will not tell you. His brazenly partisan writing, his advancing of a personally-held agenda, is beyond the pale. To be clear - he's as entitled to his views as Frimet and I are, and as you and your friends are. But the peddling of his distortions is not legitimate if they're offered by a newspaper of record as objective analysis and impartial reporting. Mr O'Loughlin's writing - if today's article is a fair representation - is a disgrace.
So... for people interested in a subjective view that takes a different perspective to Mr O'Loughlin's, you're invited to read our blog ( http://thisongoingwar.blogspot.com/).
And for people outraged by subjective rant masquerading as world-class reporting, a note to the editors or publishers of the Age and the SMH might be in order.
But for people who think the rising tension and dangerous developments in Gaza this week are really about massive military reprisals (by the Zionists), about obstinate Israeli refusal to do the decent thing and negotiate, and about an oppressed people reduced to stocking up on essential supplies - well, thankfully there's Ed O'Loughlin to meet their needs.
Ed O'Loughlin, Rafah
June 28, 2006
WITH Israel refusing to negotiate the release of a soldier captured by Palestinian militants, the people of the Gaza Strip are bracing for a massive military reprisal.
Samira Hussein, a 40-year-old mother of five, watched as Israeli tanks manoeuvred on the border two kilometres away, near the spot where militants captured one member of a tank crew and killed two others on Sunday.
"Most people left their houses yesterday when they heard there was an invasion coming, but I refuse to go," she said, standing on the roof of her house near Gaza's southern border. "What comes to us comes from God."
Many Gazans, already worn down by months of Israeli and Western economic blockades, were yesterday trying to stock up on essential supplies.
On Monday Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ruled out any negotiations with the three militant groups — led by the military wing of the Palestinian ruling party, Hamas — that are holding 19-year-old Corporal Gilad Shalit somewhere in the Gaza Strip.
Arab diplomats have told the Israeli Government that the soldier is alive and in good condition, although he was wounded in the pre-dawn raid.
A statement released in the names of the three groups — Hamas' Izzedin al-Qassam Brigades, the Popular Resistance Committee and the hitherto unknown Islamic Army — demanded the release of the 100 Palestinian women and 300 Palestinian minors held in Israeli jails in return for information about the soldier.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has called on Israel to give diplomacy a chance. France, of which Corporal Shalit is also a citizen, has sent diplomats to seek his release.
But Israeli officials say that unless the soldier is released immediately and unconditionally Israel will take a number of measures, likely to include an escalation in bombardments and assassinations coupled with ground invasions and the possible cutting off of water and electricity to Gaza's 1.3 million people. Officials have also threatened to kill Palestinian political leaders, including Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.
"The question of releasing prisoners is not on the agenda of the Israeli Government at all," Mr Olmert said. "The time is approaching for a comprehensive, sharp and severe Israeli operation."
"Abu Samir", a senior member of Hamas' military wing in the southern town of Khan Younis, said that Israeli and Western reaction to the raid was hypocritical.
"We attacked soldiers in tanks, and they say it's a terrorist attack? The Israeli army … come with tanks to kill us, and only two days before our attack they kidnapped two of our people from Gaza," he said.
"We have 10,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and not one country in the world will intervene for them, but now the whole world is shouting at us because of one prisoner? We are going to tell the world that we have had 10,000 prisoners taken and thousand of our people killed and injured by the Israelis. Let's talk about them for a change."