Spreading propaganda and touting genocide

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper walks alongside Vice President Mike Pence and President Donald Trump with military personnel present at Arlington National Cemetery

Mark Esper, a former defense secretary for President Donald Trump, is now a CNN analyst, but brought far more pro-Israel propaganda than analysis to viewers last week.

Elizabeth Fraser US Army Photo

Mark Esper, current CNN global affairs analyst and former defense secretary for President Donald Trump – lasting all of 16 months in the position – presented erroneous information last week to CNN viewers.

On 29 February, CNN anchor John Berman asked him about what has become known as the Flour Bag Massacre. “We’ve just seen in the reporting out of Gaza … maybe 100 people killed while waiting for aid … The humanitarian situation in Gaza, how much of a threat is that to hopes for peace there, to hopes for Israel to achieve what they want to achieve?”

Setting aside Berman’s apparent frustration at starvation interfering with Israel’s devastating onslaught in Gaza, Esper’s answer bears close examination.

Esper acknowledged that “Israel has a responsibility under international humanitarian law to provide food and aid to the civilians in Gaza.”

But it was downhill from there.

He quickly shifted to pure speculation, propaganda for the American viewer.

“There are concerns, of course, have been for many years, that food aid coming in is rife with, you know, arms and ammunition for Hamas, and that maybe Hamas is also pilfering it. Reports, early reports from this incident are maybe that that was happening, and then Israel opened fire, or maybe a stampede happened.”

It’s not clear what Esper is trying to convey to the viewer.

Is he saying that Hamas was trying to smuggle in arms and ammunition when Israeli forces opened fire and killed 112 Palestinians while injuring another 760, according to the Gaza health ministry?

If so, there’s been zero evidence presented of arms smuggling in that convoy. Israel, after all, is checking everything trucked into Gaza.

Alternatively, he may only be suggesting that Hamas was “pilfering” the aid.

Similarly, no evidence of Hamas taking that aid has been presented.

As for desperate people being trampled along with deadly Israeli fire, the occupying power starving Palestinians would be responsible for both.

Esper, unsurprisingly, says nothing about Israel’s genocidal policies in Gaza. Perhaps he doesn’t believe it, but as an analyst he should note the International Court of Justice views this as a plausible genocide.

Instead, he writes at CNN.com that “We are far better off in a world where … Israel dismantles the Iranian-backed Hamas terrorists.”

There’s not a word from him in the op-ed about the consequences of this policy for the over 12,500 Palestinian children killed by the Israeli attack. Nor does he mention the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians facing starvation with 15 Palestinian children now dead of “dehydration and malnutrition” as even CNN is hesitantly reporting.

Esper further fails to raise the importance of prosecuting the Israeli perpetrators of this genocide. Of course, he says nothing about dismantling the apartheid Israeli state and replacing it with a state securing equal rights for all, much as was done in the Jim Crow American South and apartheid South Africa. Deeper detail about the unequal reality facing Palestinians is not to be routinely broached at CNN.

Instead, CNN has presented calls of “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” as anti-Semitic. Presumably, CNN also views equal rights in the context of one state as anti-Semitic.

The New York Times, often quick to present Israel’s position, did not entirely side with Esper’s biased speculation about the convoy. They presented the views of witnesses, health officials and the Israeli military.

Readers were advised: “Witnesses described extensive shooting by Israeli forces amid widespread panic, and doctors at Gazan hospitals said that most of those killed and injured were by gunfire. Others were crushed under trucks frantically trying to escape, witnesses said. The Gazan health officials called it ‘a massacre.’”

The authors, Aaron Boxerman and Adam Rasgon – who months ago was critical of Al Jazeera and its Gaza bureau chief Wael Dahdouh just days after Israeli fire killed his wife, 16-year-old son and six-year-old daughter – did dutifully note that the Israeli military had claimed its soldiers fired after individuals in the crowd approached them “in a manner which endangered them.”

They write that the military “attributed most of the deaths to a crush as hungry Palestinians sought to seize the cargo.”

A different New York Times article by Hiba Yazbek and Boxerman cited Israeli military spokesperson Daniel Hagari as claiming Israeli troops shot in the air before firing “only in face of danger when the mob moved in a manner which endangered them.”

A CNN.com article cites Hagari as saying, “The tanks that were there to secure the convoy sees the Gazans being trampled and cautiously tries to disperse the mob with a few warning shots.”

The article also quotes Hagari as stating, “I think, as a military man, they were backing up securely, risking their own lives, not shooting at the mob.”

Esper’s ongoing affinity for a genocidal apartheid army – he hasn’t tweeted out any acknowledgment of error – is made all the more clear by the sort of rhetoric coming from the Israeli military spokesperson who, on at least three occasions, dismisses starving people as a “mob.”

For Esper, it’s a “stampede.”

Governor Hochul

That same morning of 29 February, CNN anchor Kate Bolduan interviewed New York Governor Kathy Hochul.

Bolduan didn’t ask one question about Hochul’s genocidal comment earlier in the month to the United Jewish Appeal-Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York, Inc.

The CNN anchor also did not respond to The Electronic Intifada’s inquiry about the absence of a question about Hochul pushing genocide in Gaza.

“If Canada someday ever attacked Buffalo,” Hochul had declared, “I’m sorry my friends, there would be no Canada the next day.”

Her implicit endorsement of a genocide wiping out Gaza – and Canada – was met with laughter rather than outrage from the audience attending the event.

Hochul then added, clearly speaking of Gaza and her Canada hypothetical, “That’s a natural reaction. You have a right to defend yourself and to make sure it never happens again.”

She issued an apology the next day, but the damage was done. Hochul admitted to an “inappropriate analogy” and, according to The New York Times, she apologized for her “poor choice of words.”

She did not apologize to the Palestinian children her words help to kill.

Touting genocide is now casually dismissed as poor word-choice.

And starving people are a “mob.”

American and Israeli officials have a lot to answer for if the International Court of Justice takes up its job responsibly.




Why is there so little response to the UN report claiming "information" that sexual violence occurred on Oct 7? Reading closely shows no actual evidence, but the headlines are screaming there is.


The word "stampede" summons mental images of "hordes of animals" who typically stampede, not hungry people. All by design, of course: as part of the elite he is free to speculate and improv reasons, for "it's only speculation," speculation which will be built upon and argued against while the language use remains intact to all broadcasted.


Australia didn't even bother to do a proper report on it, Australia still has not restored aid but we did do a $900 million deal with Elbrit


What troubles me is that now we have Trump with a policy toward Palestinians that's even worse than Biden's, which means no matter how much one doesn't want to vote for Biden, if one doesn't, one is actively putting in power someone whose policy is even more frightening. On top of that, Biden can now kick back (as if he hasn't been doing this already, right?) and say, "I just have to shift the tiniest bit to look better than Trump on Gaza. Or, I can literally just stand still and breathe and I'll look better." None of this is really a surprise. But hearing Trump state definitively where he stands lands us all in a pretty stark place. No more pretending there's even the smallest hope of things turning around now.

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Michael F. Brown

Michael F. Brown is an independent journalist. His work and views have appeared in The International Herald Tribune, TheNation.com, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The News & Observer, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Washington Post and elsewhere.