This summer, writers and actors were marching on picket lines trying to save their jobs and secure at least a working wage in ever more expensive Los Angeles. With no new product in sight, streaming audiences turned to a little-known Netflix series called Suits about a group of lawyers – and suddenly it became all the rage.
The question then was, “What to watch after all nine seasons of Suits were exhausted?” Who knew that the answer would be that next we would all be livestreaming genocide, as the world watches the Israelis bombard Gaza. They are killing, according to UNICEF, over 100 children a day in a population where nearly half are children, ie 18 or younger.
And as with all kinds of TV entertainment, which the French call divertissement or diversion, the Western media tells us we are simply to be pleasantly horrified at the spectacle, while doing nothing about it. After all, the bombing started in the Halloween season and could be streamed alongside the season’s slasher feature Five Nights at Freddys in perhaps a seamless package.
Keeping us on our couches
The Biden administration, cheering on the bombing and supplying weapons and tactical and intelligence assistance, did its best to tap down dissent and keep us all on our couches as spectators. The Biden neocons are George W. Bush followers of the Wolfowitz doctrine which says that any state, entity, or corporation which challenges U.S. domination in any area must be eliminated.
They were out in full force justifying the carnage. National security advisor Jake Sullivan, in a Le Monde featured interview, allowed as how the U.S. had “made some errors” in the “War Against Terrorism” and explained they were counselling the Israelis on how to avoid these “mistakes.”
This is the repressed language of network TV, where never a cussword must be spoken in the living room of American audiences. What Sullivan failed to say is that the U.S. “errors,” as reported in a study by Brown University, resulted in the death by both military weapons and the economic weapon of sanctions of approximately 4.6 million people in the Middle East.
When asked, what was the solution to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and the brutal 75-year suppression surrounding that occupation, Sullivan replied that the way out was to be found in Saudi-Israeli rapprochement which would be a first step toward a Palestinian state. The Palestinians on the other hand regard this attempt at the construction of a U.S. axis in the Middle East as the last straw, the nail in their coffin, which will result in their annihilation. Disrupting this stratagem was a major reason for their attack on October 7.
This supposedly peaceful solution, which simply furthers U.S. imperial aims in the oil-rich region, would be the substitute for an earlier season’s programming that is now cancelled, the Clinton-brokered Oslo Accords. This supposed blueprint for a two-state solution was instead simply an excuse for Israel to claim more territory in the West Bank and the other occupied areas. A Palestinian described these phony “accords” as simply resulting in “More walls, more checkpoints, more prisons.”
The evening devastation of the news
As the bombs continue falling and the outcry around the world for a ceasefire grows, the superhawks in Biden’s cabinet began proposing a “humanitarian pause.” Sounds good and appealing – it will give us all time to get up, get to the refrigerator, make a sandwich, and still be able to get back for the next round of bombing. As Norman Finklestein describes it, this is nothing more than “fattening up the turkey” before slaughtering it. But it sounds good for an administration which is now seeking funds to launch or perpetuate three world wars, in Taiwan against the Chinese, in Ukraine against Russia, and in the Middle East against Iran. ‘Humanitarian pause’ sounds peaceful, the better and easier to escape back from the evening devastation of the news to the ritualized carnage of Sunday football.
Old white guys' “Garden” vs. everyone else’s “Jungle”
In Europe, more media savvy audiences were also subjected to more sophisticated mainstream programming in both the left and right presses. Liberation’s coverage of this massacre would have had its anti-colonial founder Jean-Paul Satre turning over in his grave. As per European foreign secretary Josep Borrell who described Europe as “the garden” and the rest of the world as “the jungle,” its stories on the bombing of the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital, where over 400 people were killed, used only mainstream Western analysts to support the Israeli claim that the hospital was destroyed by an errant Palestinian rocket.
Accompanying this story was another, detailing widespread protests in the streets as Arab populations disputed this account and blamed Israel. Though Israel has before and since bombed numerous hospitals, ambulances and convoys of wounded fleeing hospitals, the juxtaposition of the two viewpoints made it seem that in the reasoned “garden,” technical experts would find the truth, while in the “jungle,” wild crowds were simply irrational, this despite the fact that many non-mainstream media Western intelligence sources, such as ex-CIA analyst Larry Johnson, also disputed the Israeli claim.
Finally, in an attempt to make sure everyone stayed home in front of their sets, the French president Macron banned Pro-Palestinian protests, which gave free reign to the police to use tear gas, water cannons and arrests to quell dissent. The French constitutional court affirmed the ban, a dangerous curbing of rights, but then threw the decision of whether protests could be held over to the individual prefects. What finally overthrew the ban though was people coming out en masse in a way that it could not be enforced. The ban itself is nothing more than an extension by Macron of the utterly undemocratic suppression of discussion in the legislature, as bill after bill is now passed by imperial decree without discussion. And this by someone who, like Biden, calls himself a centrist.
Gaza, Game of Thrones with real casualties
The programming now is starting to be more varied. The sights of mass protests everywhere in the world are creating a new series where not just destruction but also dissent is live streamed to counter corporate media complacency. However, as crowds in the West and almost the entirety of the global South call this barbarity into question, the massacring continues.
The U.S. empire which is masterminding it very happy to let a levelled Gaza, a kind of Game of Thrones wasteland, serve as a warning to the vast majority of humanity that this is what happens when they rise up and attempt to throw off all the vestiges of colonial rule.
China has the Belt and Road Initiative, a new Silk Road designed to raise the level of all those along the way, and the West counters with a devastated Gaza as the price to pay for demanding an equal place in the world. Two sharply different series, now live streaming.
Dennis Broe is the author of The Precinct with the Golden Arm, the upcoming third volume in the Harry Palmer mystery trilogy whose subject is the LAPD, the pharmaceutical industry and Mexican culture in LA.