The Role of Video in Israeli Blockade Crisis

Friday, June 04, 2010


The confrontation between the Israel Defense Forces and a ship of activists bringing supplies to Gaza left nine civilians dead. Each side is accusing the other of having started it and each has video to bolster their claims. New York Times digital media reporter Brian Stelter says that in this case, videotape is just making a murky situation murkier.

Comments [16]

Scot Roberts from Wisconsin

By the wwaythe totally slanted coverage starts out talking to the "expert" who states that the flotilla had every means to broadcast as they were broadcasting the whole trip live but then in total stupidity goes on, without a question from your biased "team" to tell us we can't tell what happened without live video and you experts Gladstone and Garfield absolutley fail to tell or question where the live coverage of the flotilla disappeared to.
COME ON we all are not as stupid blind or prejudiced as your show is. Disgusting and insulting to we who look at everything from all sides.

Jun. 09 2010 11:06 AM
Scot Roberts from Wisconsin

Your coverage, like all, left out the most important fact. Israel attacked a ship in international waters. That is all that matters - they have a right to defend themselves. If someone enters your house does it matter if they shot first or not you have the right to defend yourselve as they enter your property. As the Israeli storm troopers landed on the ship they should have been shot one by one as they touched th boat. Just as I would shoot an intruder as they enter my house.

Jun. 09 2010 10:59 AM
Schussboomer from Branford, Ct

The Mufti squelches Peace in the twenties and thirties. He joins Hitler and Himmler in the forties. The ball gets handed to the al Banna and the Brotherhood. Wars, incitation against Israel and the Jews rage on in the Arab world, and Hezbollah and Hamas and Achmidinijad and Al Qaeda threaten civilization as we know it. What does the Left do? Ignores all of this. Demonizes Israel. There are no Peace partners here. It should be obvious that there are no Arab moderates, including Abbas who said to his brothers in the last year he will never make peace with Israel. Obama calls Israel occupiers, and ten thousand rockets fall on Sderot. Read Jihad and Jew Hatred by Kuntzel, or Palestine Betrayed or Nazi Propaganda and the Arab world and open your eyes NPR and start reporting fairly, without omitting the relevant facts all the time. Or perhaps you should give Helen Thomas' views more coverage, do a segment called "Send them Back to Poland and Germany, the Left and the disembovelling of the State of Israel" I'm sure Gladstone and gang could make that sound wonderfully civilized.

Jun. 07 2010 01:15 PM
Brad Bellows from Cambridge MA

Dear Ms Gladstone and Mr. Garfield,

My usual appreciation for your program was sorely tested yesterday when you lapsed into the passive voice to describe Israel's killing of 9 civilians in international waters. How tedious and predictable these formulations have by now become: " incident that left 9 activists dead", "Died in the course of ...", "were killed while..." , etc., and always a giveaway of the agenda, or perhaps simply timidity, that will shape the story to come, which can be summarized as, First, Give No Offense to AIPAC or Dershowitz, or Donors. So your immediate punt to a debate between Zionists was hardly surprising - however noble Peter Beinart may be. But really, this was a disappointing moment for On The Media. I especially loved Mr. Rosen's suggestion that friends of Israel are victimized in academia. Norman Finkelstein, take note!

To the world beyond the US media bubble, the story here was not about dueling media accounts. it was was about the effectiveness of one side at neutralizing the most lopsided of facts, by attacking at night, by jamming all cell connections, by confiscating all evidence, and by delaying the release of prisoners and the names and bodies of the dead for several news cycles, while flooding the airwaves with relentless propaganda about the supposed violence of "activists" who had the temerity to defend themselves with sticks against armed assailants in international waters, absorbing 9 fatalities while inflicting none. That your hardhitting analysis argued these facts to a draw shows an amazing amount of skill at obfuscation.

The only positive note is that I sensed embarrassment in Ms. Gladstone's voice.

This sort of coverage does a grave disservice to Israeli by postponing the changes that are needed to establish real peace, possibly beyond the point that it can ever be achieved, and it doesn't do much for US interests, or the reputation of the US media, either.

Brad Bellows
Cambridge MA

Jun. 07 2010 11:33 AM
Richard Speel from Petaluma, CA

I was listening to your broadcast today (Sunday June 6) and was surprised to hear someone say that they couldn't really decide what caused what to happen. I believe you omitted the fact that Israel has kept Palestinians 'locked up' in various enclaves, like Gaza and allows materiel to pass to them at Israel's choice.

Sure, the story is complicated, but no Israeli soldier was killed.

Militarized governments are not really democratic governments.


Jun. 06 2010 07:41 PM
jessica silber from boston, ma

I thought this was an excellent piece. Definitely opened my eyes to many things. Thanks, OTM.

Jun. 06 2010 06:05 PM

This is the link I used to watch it live from the ship's camera as it happened. They might have it archived.

Jun. 06 2010 05:22 PM
Maureen McDonald from Bristol, RI

In parsing this debate, has anyone noticed that nine people are dead?

Jun. 06 2010 02:27 PM

This week's show is an award winner! Thanks OTM!

Jun. 06 2010 10:54 AM
Jay Tea from

This is a remarkably educational article. One learns a lot from what the reporters say. One learns even more from what is not said.

Such as how nine "civilians" were killed, but no mention of the injured -- including the IDF soldiers (initially armed with paintball guns) who were beaten, stabbed, and shot.

Such as how the videos described omit such parts as an Israeli soldier being literally thrown overboard by the mob.

Such as how the Israelis had previously boarded the other five ships without incident, and it was only on the last ship that they were mobbed and assaulted.

I could go on, but I think I'm running up against the character limit.


Jun. 06 2010 10:42 AM
Robert from NYC

Did any of you who left comments here think that NPR in particular but any mainstream US media would give the other side of a story that portrays Israel in a bad light! Spin takes on a new meaning when it comes to Israel with regard to most mainstream media. Israel does as it pleases and the US looks the other way. Of course the footage of the boarding of the ship was totally unclear and the added dialog was the real joke. Has anyone other than Amy Goodman had guests who were actually on the boat? Have you seen/heard that anywhere other than Democracy Now? Over these years I've come to realize that OTM is really WTM, We The Media: and this is how it's done.
I'm sure NPR entered this venue with sincerity and the intention of being objective and critical, but listen carefully folks, how much is REALLY objective and critical! Less and Less.

Jun. 06 2010 08:49 AM
fred from usa ca

Israels learned in the past the bias against it is inherent. Whats galling is the assumption that the criticism comes from a place of fair mindedness. Its especially bad on uk tv, where they talk about criticism as if its assumed one should criticize israel, the only thing they question is why america isn't bashing israel as well. Of course this assumption seems to ignore the fact that in a vast number of countries antisemetic views are so common they are the norm. The criticism and public opinion these people speak of comes from places where large proportions of the population can't even get recent events right, they think that either the jews or the cia did 9/11. Their narrative of history is so bent that its just absurd that one take their opinion on such issues seriously, never mind consider them fair arbiters of such situations. In previous such events israels been lambasted by international opinion, the press and only later on do the hysterical headlines get fact checked at all, by that time its gone from the news, the only news is about outrage, damn the facts, because we already know the facts we want to know. So massacres are claimed, and when it becomes obvious later that it wasn't as such...people just shuffle away, off to wait for the next story of hate.

In this kind of atmosphere its understandable why so called critics of israel get criticised themselves. When you throw yourself in with the side that has motivations based on hate and misinformation, and you effectively give support to that side without considering the consequences, of course you should be condemned for what you are doing.

Jun. 05 2010 11:11 PM
Roger Lafontaine from Youngstown, OH

To perpetrate a human rights violation, it is not necessary to convince anyone, it is only necessary to cast doubt. When there is doubt even the innocent victim stands in the shadow with the perpetrator and the truth is obscured. You have done that for Israel, thank you.

Jun. 05 2010 06:37 PM
peter crowley from salem, ma

How did you manage to get through the entire segment without mentioning that Israel has confiscated or blocked almost every piece of video except that taken by the IDF? I don't want to ascribe motive, but this is the single most salient fact about the video of this incident, and you completely ignored it.

Jun. 05 2010 06:00 PM
Sandra Carmichael from South Bend IN

Be honest guys! Get real! How can you talk as if there were "competing videos" presented by the flotilla passengers? There is no record in film and communication available to the world except for what the Israelis have seen fir to release. The Israeli military sabotaged the satelite communications even before they boarded the ships, creating a communications blackout and isolating the ships. Then they confiscated all of the cameras, phones, computers, notes etc. carried by the passengers, (journalists included), and the ships'security videos, -and have not given any of these back.
They created the same kind of isolation and blackout again today when they boarded the Rachel Corrie.

Jun. 05 2010 04:29 PM
Robert Potter from Manlius, NY

Out-of-context video clips are evil. They seem to show truth, but they are so easily manipulated as to be meaningless in proving what really happened. Their main use is to provide just enough "evidence" to keep true believers from leaving the fold.

What happened before? What happened after? What ARE those fuzzy blobs, really? No answers to those questions, so one's preconceived notions are simply strengthened. This leads to greater and greater distance between opposing sides.

Jun. 05 2010 02:56 PM

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