Sunday, May 29, 2011

Propaganda: Egypt Opens the Gazan Borders

Susan Brannon-Robens
May 29, 2011 -When first read the article  “Egypt Gazan Borders Opens Permanently “Egypt Gazan Borders Opens Permanently” on the Huffington Post, I was ready to go outside and dance in the streets and then I wondered why others were not going outside and dancing? This was good news!

The borders opened between Rafah and Egypt allowing an unlimited number of Palestinians to cross the borders. There is an image of a cute young girl looking out a bus window. The short article says that it was written from Rafah, Gaza the reporter was in the field?
The Huffington reports, “Mohammad Zoarob, a 66-year-old suffering from chronic kidney disease. He said he had been waiting for a medical permit from the Palestinian health ministry for five years so he could go to Egypt for treatment. When Palestinian officials coincidentally approved the permit on Saturday, he kissed his family goodbye, rushed to the border and was quickly whisked across. "They put me in an ambulance and in five minutes I reached the Egyptian side of the crossing," he said.” Wow what great news, it is about time that the Gazans can breathe different air and have access to more food and medicines, not to mention obtain better water.

Because the article was only a few paragraphs, I decided to read more on the story using other media outlets. Searching on Google, I quickly read through mainstream headlines and first sentences. What struck me was that FOX, ABC, BBC, Reuters, Washington Post, and the Guardian  all had a similar view on the story. Borders are open to 1.5 million Palestinians and hundreds cross the borders. The stories were wonderful and joyous, with a few warnings on the Israeli concern for smuggling deadly weapons into Gaza for attacks against Israel.

Time Magazine’s headline had a different viewpoint, “All Quiet in Rafah: Egypt’s Gaza Border Opens Not with a Bang but a Whisper.” This headline reflected something quite different than the other news agencies. They seem to have reported a bit more of the reality: “Palestinian women and children, as well as men under the age of 18 or over the age of 40, are now permitted to enter Egypt for up to one month without a visa. Men between the ages of 18 and 40 may be granted permits to enter for reasons such as enrollment in Egyptian universities or a need for medical treatment. They go on to say, “And yet, opening day marked one of the slowest business days that Rafah Crossing had seen in years. Egyptian officials reported that roughly 400 people crossed into Egypt at Rafah on Saturday, and 153 into Gaza. To top it all off, the article continued to report that not a whole lot has changed, the reality is that to Gaza border never really opened it was already open, “Three days ago it was the same.” In the end, the Gazan border opening news story is just propaganda.

How does one decipher the different angles from this story?

The best way, is to go as close to the source as possible. I viewed three Palestinian news sites, and Al Jazeera. The Palestinian sites were: Maa’n ; PNN; IMEMC ; WAFA ; and The Palestine Chronicle Al-Jazeera and IMEMC did not cover the event, not even a peep. Maa’n reported from the perspective of the benefits for the businessman, and how it will help to “facilitate renewed efforts for the reconstruction of infrastructure and homes” along with some repeats from the US main news story, background and Israel’s concern.

PNN basically repeated what was said in the wires, but stressed that weapons will not be allowed through the border and added, “…the opening of Rafah crossing will not end the surfing of the residents but will help to ease its effect on them” Hamad added.” WAFA gave a short paragraph, stressing the hours that the border will be open.

However, The Palestine Chronicle went into depth regarding reactions from the locals and added that “things remain difficult at the border.” “Egyptian border officials collect passports for examination, and return a few hours later to read aloud the names of those allowed in, a large crowd gathers around them. Tensions soon escalate to yelling, and occasional tears.”

The Chronicle analyzed that, people at the border are a bit on edge and the Palestinians feel that the change is genuine, but are concerned that Egypt might be forced to go back to its old way. In the end, only 340-400 Palestinians crossed the border, this number is a few more than was allowed to enter previously.

The result is that the same restrictions still apply to the Gazans as it did before; nothing has really changed only the US and UK news made it into such a big event.

Then why are the US and UK mainstream media resources publishing this story, creating this propaganda and for who? Is it to release the pressure from the recent deaths and attacks at the flotilla from Israel on May 31st, 2010 before the next one comes over in June? Could it be that this Front Page news release had something to do with the ousting of Mubarak from Egypt, and the 53% opinion that supports to break the country’s peace treaty with Israel? The Telegraph points to Egypt's new ties to Iran and the Hamas while stressing the Israel concern and stability in the Middle East.

I wonder if the story is a precursory to portray Egypt as terrorist supporters while in the future will be the new addition to the America’s enemies list. The reality is that Israel has been highly concerned over the new developments in the surrounding countries such as Syria, Egypt, and Jordan in reference to their own security.

My hunch is that if one tiny shot or weapon fires into the Israeli side, Israel will put the pressure on Egypt to reduce the amount of Gazans that can go through and again tighten the hold of the Gazan population. When doing this, Israel will not look bad in the public’s eyes, because the Gazans had their chance and blew it, thus justifying keeping the prison closed.
In the future we shall find out.

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