Gaza, Russia, and the media

Last night, my wife channel-surfed her way into a bad neighborhood — RT, the Russian government’s news network. There, she saw a report about a “wave” of world wide “mass protests” against the Israeli government’s actions in Gaza.

RT has also posted an article with this headline: “In our millions, we’re all Palestinian: Wave of protests worldwide demand end to Gaza slaughter.” The first paragraph of the article scales back the number considerably:

Rallies in support of the Palestinian victims of Israel’s military onslaught were held across the world’s major cities this week. Thousands marched in France, Germany, Argentina, the US, the UK and other countries.

Reading further, we learn that there is even less to the story than meets the eye. Daniel Pipes points out that “using RT’s own numbers of each protest referenced, we find. . .17 participants; more than 10,000; 1,300; dozens; 4,000; and 150 demonstrators.”

Nor are the protests “worldwide.” RT cites protests in the United States, Argentina, Great Britain, Norway, Sweden, France, Germany, and Australia. Further research by Pipes found protests to have occurred in a little more than a dozen additional countries.

In all, Pipes finds that demonstrations have occurred in 23 countries, 6 of which have Muslim-majority populations. The average demonstration in the countries RT lists consisted of less than 3,000 protesters.

The real story when it comes to anti-Israeli backlash is how it pales, so far at least, in comparison to that which followed past Israeli incursions. As Pipes shows, Israel has enjoyed an unusual amount of support and Hamas has garnered an unusual amount of criticism this time around.

The story within this story is the paucity of protests from the Arab world. Perhaps that’s because, as Pipes observes, the Arab-Israeli conflict now looks like “small beer” alongside Iran’s march toward nuclear weapons, ISIS’s march towards a caliphate, and the chaos and carnage in Iraq and Syria.

But what about the Western media’s comparative restraint in bashing Israel? Here, I think the Russians can take some of the credit. The downing of the Malaysian airliner by Russian-backed criminals has deflected a significant amount of attention from Israel’s incursion into Gaza.

“In millions,” we are all airline passengers. “In millions,” we all reject the slaughter of hundreds of innocents by Putin’s thugs.

As Israel’s battle with Hamas in Gaza continues, I expect international opinion to swing more decisively in favor of the Islamist terrorists. But for the time being, Russian thuggery — for which RT has served as an abject apologist to the point that yet another of its correspondents has resigned – helps Israel avoid the usual level of mindless condemnation and vitriol.

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