The Gaza, Iran, and the Security Council

 I just ran some searches of the Nexis, Factiva, and NewsBank databases for the period beginning Tuesday, January 15, and extending through Monday, January 28.  The search parameters were (1) ‘Security Council’ and ‘Gaza‘, and (2) ‘Security Council’ and ‘Iran‘.  My reason for choosing January 15 as the earliest date for the searches is that on this date, the current Israel Defense Forces offensive was launched against the Palestinian Gaza Strip, when "about 20 Israeli tanks blasted into two eastern neighborhoods of Gaza City after Palestinian militants spotted an undercover army unit and pinned it down in a firefight.  Israeli helicopters swooped in and launched three missiles, hitting a group of Hamas fighters in a car and two squads at separate mortar-launching sites." ("18 Palestinians killed in clashes," Boston Globe, January 16.)

All that my searches are trying to accomplish is to provide us with a comparative sense of how much coverage there has been of (1) Israel‘s offensive into the Gaza and (2) Iran‘s nuclear program, both taken as issues relevant to the Security Council – the Council being the organ of the United Nations whose legitimate concern is the maintenance of international peace and security. — That’s the basic logic behind what follows.

Okay then: 

                                       Nexis[1]   Factiva[2]   NewsBank[3]   TOTAL

     Jan.15-28, 2008[*]


(1) Security Council

     and Gaza                    490             349                 36                  875 



(2) Security Council

     and Iran                    1147           1043               155                 2345

  * These searches were carried out on the afternoon of January 29, 2008. Note well that the numbers in each category are to be regarded as approximations.   
  1. Includes the Nexis database’s Major U.S. and World Publications and News Wire Services categories.  Excludes the TV and Radio Broadcast Transcripts category.
  2. Includes the Factiva database’s All Sources category.
  3. Includes the NewsBank database’s All [U.S.] Newspapers category.  

All in all, my hunch is that the much larger number of items that mentioned both the ‘Security Council’ and ‘Iran’ (2345) than mentioned the ‘Security Council’ and ‘Gaza’ (875) indicates that bringing the Security Council to bear on Iran’s nuclear program is regarded as more newsworthy — and therefore more reported about and more commented on — than the possibility of bringing the Security Council to bear on Israel’s military offensive inside the Gaza Strip.

So even though the case easily (and in my opinion decisively) could be made that the Israel Defense Forces’ "incursion" into the Gaza ought to be of paramount interest to the Security Council as a breach of international peace and security, in point of fact, the Security Council never adopted a resolution or even a presidential statement related to this event.  And given our media universe and time frame, reporting about this event as a potential concern of the Security Council was therefore only 37.3 percent as frequent as was reporting about Iran’s nuclear program as a concern of the Security Council.

Of course, we all know that lurking behind these rough numbers is the matter of what is versus what is not a concern of the U.S. Government and its policies, and how they impact and help to steer the expectations and sense of newsworthiness not only in the United States but around much of the world.  

Worth investigating further?


UN Security Council — 2008 Meeting Records

Israel Defense Forces (Homepage — English)

"A World Without Islam," Graham Fuller, Foreign Policy, January/February, 2008. (Anybody who wants to read the complete article can email me and ask for a copy.)

"Security Council Loses Credibility Over Iran, Israel," Thalif Deen, Inter Press Service, January 29, 2008




Update (January 29, 2008): This is too beautiful for words.  But there has been no — and doubtless there will not be any — acknowledgement by the UN News Center that the Security Council failed to adopt (i.e., was successfully prevented from adopting) any kind of presidential statement or resolution with respect to the current offensive by the Israel Defense Forces against the Gaza Palestinians.

Indeed.  To date, the closest that the UN News Center has come to reporting about the Israeli offensive against the Gaza as an event that might be of concern to the Security Council was this single unremarkable sentence: "In New York, the Security Council continued closed-door consultations on a draft presidential statement on the situation in Gaza."  ("Food rations reduced as a result of closure of Gaza crossings – UN agency," UN News Center, January 25, 2008.)

But even the draft presidential statement died.  And the UN News Center hasn’t reported — and surely won’t — the fact of its demise.

Not only has nothing of substance about the Israeli offensive emerged from the Security Council.  But almost no establishment news sources are bothering to report this most revealing triumph on the part of the International Community to prevent the Council from condemning the violence of the Israeli state.

In short: For their services to the Master, client states inherit the privileges of immunity.


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