The Rafah Border "Breach" and the media
A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to comment on the felling of the Rafah Wall and the media's coverage of it for Aljazeera's Listening Post, one of my favorite programs by the way (which I contribute to on a semi-regular basis). You can watch the video below (also watch for the brilliant piece of Burmese media activism following the Rafah Wall segment!).
In short, my point was that the Western media tended to view the felling of the wall as something of a "jail break", and the Palestinians filing across as swarming insects, and at best, a deprived people out on a shopping spree. The tone of coverage tended to shift more towards the negative as days progressed. I even received a series of interview questions from an Italian journalist in which she said many journalists were commenting on how the “poor and hungry” Palestinians were returning from Egypt “charged of Televisions and Computers and Mobile Phones” .
Suddenly, attention shifted from the event's proper historical and political context...of decades of isolation and occupation; of continued Israeli control over Gaza and its borders; of a deliberate and sustained siege, ongoing for not one year, but over a decade now in varying degrees... to Palestinian shopping habits and auditing their degree of need. Of course, underlying all this is the fact that you cannot resolve a situation by simply providing Gaza's population with humanitarian supplies, enough to sustain them for a few weeks at at time, enough to prevent and international outcry, enough to prevent death and starvation without addressing the continued occupation.
The same way you cannot resolve Israel's security dilemma's by simply demanding an end to rocket attacks, and keeping the borders closed, and occupation ongoing at the same time; as though that status quo-of simply not attacking Gaza in response but continuing the siege and the occupation- is acceptable to Palestinians.
And of course while the "border breach" brought temporary respite, it certainly did not resolve the deeper seeded Gaza crisis. Beyond the dramatic images of the border pilgrimage, the mass media is no longer interested in this issue. As far as they are concerned now, the situation has been resolved-Gaza's found a way out, so why the fuss?