Tuesday, Jun 1, 2010 07:02 ET What does Israel fear from media coverage? By Glenn Greenwald A day after Israeli commandoes raided an aid flotilla seeking to breach the blockade of Gaza, Israel held hundreds of activists seized aboard the convoy on Tuesday . . . .Reuters reported that Israel was holding hundreds of activists incommunicado in and around the port city of Ashdod, refusing to permit journalists access to witnesses who might contradict Israel's version of events. Physically blocking journalists from reporting on their conduct is what Israel does (as well as others); recall this from The New York Times on January 6, 2009, regarding Israel's war in Gaza: Israel Puts Media Clamp on Gaza Three times in recent days, a small group of foreign correspondents was told to appear at the border crossing to Gaza. The reporters were to be permitted in to cover firsthand the Israeli war on Hamas in keeping with a Supreme Court ruling against the two-month-old Israeli ban on foreign journalists entering Gaza. Each time, they were turned back on security grounds, even as relief workers and other foreign citizens were permitted to cross the border. On Tuesday the reporters were told to not even bother going to the border. And so for an 11th day of Israelâs war in Gaza, the several hundred journalists here to cover it waited in clusters away from direct contact with any fighting or Palestinian suffering, but with full access to Israeli political and military commentators eager to show them around southern Israel, where Hamas rockets have been terrorizing civilians. A slew of private groups financed mostly by Americans are helping guide the press around Israel. Like all wars, this one is partly about public relations. But unlike any war in Israelâs history, in this one the government is seeking to entirely control the message and narrative for reasons both of politics and military strategy. Isn't it strange how Plucky, Democratic Israel goes to such extreme lengths to prevent any media coverage of what they do, any journalistic interference with their propaganda machine, in light of the fact that -- as always -- They Did Absolutely Nothing Wrong? Is physically blocking the media from covering what happens the act of a government that is in the right? Thomas Jefferson answered that question quite some time ago: Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues of truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is freedom of the press. It is therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions. Israel is now not only detaining the victims of its aggression, but also threatening to prosecute and imprison them. Israeli Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said yesterday: "All those who lifted a hand against a soldier will be punished to the full extent of the law." So when Israel seizes ships in international waters and kills anyone who resists (and others standing near them), that is an act of noble, plucky self-defense. But those who fail to submit completely to this lawless and barbarous act of aggression are the Real Criminals who will be prosecuted and imprisoned "to the fullest extent of the law." In other words, not only is Israel -- which seized ships in international waters and killed civilians -- the Real Victim, but the Real Criminals are those on the ship. But doesn't the victim of a crime usually want media coverage of what the criminal did? How odd for the victim in this case to take such extreme steps to ensure that the world cannot hear from the witnesses. * * * * * Two other related points: (1) as I noted yesterday, the real question for Americans is our own country's responsibility for what Israel does; as virtually the entire world vehemently condemns Israel's conduct, the U.S. -- as usual -- acts to protect the Israelis at the U.N. and joins it in heaping blame on its victims; and (2) Robert Farley highlights a small though typical piece of false Israeli propaganda, this one from supreme propagandist Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic, which pervades our discourse in unchallenged form.