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Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Crowd size - whose estimates?

There was a rally in Washington, D.C. today in support of Israel. Before I get to the main point of this post, just a brief sidetrack to examine the content of the demonstration:
Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), Israeli Ambassador Daniel Ayalon and the Rev. John C. Hagee were among those who roused multiple rounds of applause by saying Israel's attacks against the Shiite Muslim group Hezbollah were blows against those who have killed civilians from Bali to Bombay to Moscow.
300 Lebanese have been killed by Israel's attacks; of those, 95% have been civilians. Declaring that a "blow against those who have killed civilians" is about as Orwellian as it gets. As far as has been reported, the Hezbollah death toll currently stands at less than five.

Back to crowd size. Here's how the Washington Post described it: "Some 1,500 people, according to organizers, stood in Freedom Plaza." Nor is the Post unique in allowing pro-Israel groups to estimate their own rally size. Yesterday there was a similar rally in New York; here's how the New York Times reported its size: "Organizers estimated the crowd at 10,000."

There was another rally yesterday you might have missed. It was a rally opposing the Israeli invasion, and it took place in Detroit (Dearborn to be specific). It wasn't mentioned by the Post or the Times, nor by any of the national broadcast media as far as I know. It was covered in the local Detroit Free Press, who used a more traditional method to report on the crowd size: "Police estimated the crowd in Dearborn at more than 10,000."

Needless to say, none of the corporate media as far as I know reported the "organizers' estimate" of the recent demonstration in Mexico City. Get tens of thousands to an antiwar rally and you'll be lucky if the media report on it at all. But get a few hundred, or a thousand, at a pro-Israel rally, and the media will not only report it, they'll even let you provide your own crowd estimate. What a deal.

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