domingo, 7 de janeiro de 2018

Mainstream media bias coverage of ethnic cleansing of Palestinians

Israeli authorities are seeking 12 charges against Ahed Tamimi, a prominent 16-year-old Palestinian activist filmed slapping and kicking two Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank.
The brave teenager was detained on December 19, four days after the video showing her confronting the soldiers outside her family's home in the village of Nabi Saleh went viral.
The incident occurred moments after Israeli forces had shot Ahed's 15-year-old cousin point-blank in the face with a rubber bullet. The wounded youngster experienced severe internal bleeding and was put in a medically-induced coma for 72 hours.
Ahed's 20-year-old cousin Nour, who also appeared in the video, as well as her mother Nariman, were arrested soon afterwards. Nour, who studies journalism at Al uds University, was released on bail on Friday and will have to sign in at an Israeli police station every Friday at noon.
During a hearing on Monday at Israel's Ofer military court near Ramallah, Ahed was charged with 12 counts, including allegedly assaulting an Israeli soldier, interfering with a soldier's duties and two past instances of stone-throwing, according to her lawyer Gaby Lasky.
Lasky said that Ahed's mother, Nariman, was charged with alleged "incitement" for uploading the video on social media, as well as another charge of assault. Mother and daughter's charges also include alleged incidents unrelated to the video. 
The Tamimi family are well-known activists in Nabi Saleh.

While this is the first time Ahed has been detained by Israeli forces, Nariman has been arrested at least five times in the past.
On Thursday, Manal Tamimi, who is related to the women, was also arrested during a demonstration outside the Ofer detention centre demanding the release of her relatives and Munther Amira, another prominent Palestinian activist from Bethlehem's Aida refugee camp who was arrested last week.
Lasky said that she was able to secure the release of Nour and Manal - who has not been charged with a crime. However, the Israeli army's prosecutors have until Tuesday to appeal the decision.
Ahed's father, Bassem, told Al Jazeera that it was very likely his daughter would be sentenced and imprisoned over the charges.
"They built the case around her specifically to try to keep her in prison as long as they can," he said.
"I am very worried about my daughter," added Bassem, who has also been arrested numerous times by Israeli forces for the "crime" of resistance. "Her fate is now in the hands of people who don't even see Palestinians as full human beings." Owing to the charges against Ahed, "there's a possibility of her facing a lot of time". 
Palestinian teenagers typically face about six to nine months in prison for charges of stone-throwing.
Prisoners' rights group, Addameer, has reported that stone-throwing is the most common charge levied against Palestinian children. In the occupied West Bank, where Palestinians are governed by Israeli military law, stone-throwing is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
The group says that Israel routinely targets "the youngest and most vulnerable" members of politically active Palestinian families to "exert pressure on their family and the entire community to put an end to all social mobilisation."
Bassem said that Israel is attempting to "break Ahed because she is a symbol of the resistance".
He is right. His daughter became very popular beyond the occupied territories for her brave nonviolent resistance to Israeli occupation.
"Israel wants to show other young Palestinians what will happen to them if they try to resist."
However, once again, her arrest will only increase the strength of their will to resist oppression and dispossession. 

Before Ahed's arrest, the photo of  16-year-old Fawzi al-Junaidi blindfolded, bruised and surrounded by a dozen Israeli soldiers went viral on social media as the emblem of Israeli oppression.
But for Western mainstream media, it was difficult to accommodate this photo, amid all the talk about "anger", "rage", "violence", and the regularly recycled imagery of burning tyres and young men with hidden faces hurling stones.
Fawzi's arrest was presented as a singular case, an exception, and what happened to him after the photo was snapped did not interest mainstream media. There was little mention of the thousands of children currently imprisoned or the fact that they are the fifth generation of Palestinians living under a military occupation.
Likewise, while many foreign correspondents were saying that US President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel had thrown "gasoline in the fire", there was little mention of the fact that that same city has been systematically ethnically cleansed for the past 70 years.
In Western mainstream reporting, Palestinians yet again were presented as irrational "angry" actors, their oppression yet again denied the coverage it deserves.
Palestinians usually make it into mainstream coverage only when they are protesting or physically confronting Israeli aggression. Their outcry is referred to as an "escalation of violence" in the region. There is no "escalation of violence" when Israel steps up its night raids on Palestinian homes or settlers attack Palestinian farmers.
The mainstream media focus is always on Palestinian reaction and not on Israeli action and it insinuates that Palestinians are on the offence when in fact they are on the defence.
It is within the contours of this "defensive" discourse that Israel has built itself and that mainstream media reports from in the region. That is why, Palestinians "riot" and Israeli forces "disperse", as Israeli government spokesmen are always quoted as saying. That is why, we see articles referring to the apartheid wall as a "separation wall" or correspondents reporting from Jerusalem never saying "occupied Jerusalem", which it very much is according to international law.
The general media narrative will have you believe that Gilo, the Israeli settlement in East Jerusalem, and other illegal colonies in Palestine are simply "neighbourhoods" and that the West Bank is not occupied, but "contested" or "disputed".
Palestinians with Israeli citizenship are simply "Israeli Arabs". The West Bank is where Palestinians "seek to establish a state" rather than a territory that belongs to the indigenous Palestinians. Gaza is portrayed as its own sovereign entity rather than a besieged Palestinian city.
What was different about the latest media extravaganza on Palestine, however, was that the fraught relationship between mainstream media outlets and Trump pushed for the reporting angle to change. Trump's attacks on major news organisations and the public fixation on his scandal-prone administration made media coverage of the latest assault on Palestinian rights a bit more critical, but not in the right direction.
Mainstream media presented Trump's December 6 announcement as his latest blunder, further obscuring what was really going on. There was little mention of the daily struggle of Palestinians living under occupation or the history of land annexation and the Zionisation of Jerusalem.
Nor was there much discussion about the fact that Trump merely chose not to sign a waiver on a declaration that the US Congress had already made two decades ago. Nor was there any reflection on how the US has enabled and funded the Israeli colonial project in Palestine. Nor was there a reference to the fact that Israel built its entire state on the premise of another declaration made a hundred years ago by another man in power - Lord Arthur Balfour.
At the time when Balfour was occupying the post of British foreign secretary, the British colonial project had already produced a solid narrative presenting the Palestinian people as backward savages, justifying occupation and encouraging brutal colonial practices.
That narrative gave Balfour the confidence he needed to declare in 1917 a Jewish homeland in the region with complete disregard for the population that lived there. It also helped Zionists push the ideas that Jewish Zionists are "a people without land for a land without people" and that they are "making the desert bloom" - completely erasing the existence of a native population there.
When the Palestinians revolted in 1936 against the British Mandate and the Zionist movement, the image of the "angry" "irrational" Arab emerged. Lord William Peel, who headed the Palestine Royal Commission, was tasked with investigating the "unrest" and "disorder" in the region. The report which the commission produced barely mentioned British oppression, and much like today's mainstream media reporting, focused on the Palestinian reaction to the presence of English soldiers and the expanding Zionist endeavour.
Today, as we are supposedly in the "post-colonial" age, settler colonialism is considered a thing of the past. Yet, colonial bias still dominates mainstream portrayal of Palestinians. In the past few decades, Israel has been quite successful in maintaining a grip on the general narrative and ensuring that the bias persists.
The Israeli authorities have meticulously pieced together the images of the "angry", "violent" and "irrational" Arabs and the civilisation force that the Israeli state is. They have sold it to the world in an attempt to legitimise its violations of human rights.
Israel has also managed to mask the Palestinian question as a religious issue between Muslims/Arabs and Jews. This narrative aims to erase the Palestinian identity and portray the occupation as a religious conflict. It also makes it easier for Zionists to throw accusations of anti-Semitism at anyone that opposes and criticises Israeli colonialism.
And for decades now, the Palestinian question has been presented as a conflict between two equal sides. The context of colonisation, apartheid, illegal settlements, extrajudicial killings, home demolitions, arbitrary arrests and administrative detentions are mere footnotes in this general narrative. The word colonialism is avoided altogether because it conjures memories of the crimes of an era that Western powers would rather conveniently forget.
Nothing will change in Palestine until these colonial narratives are challenged and defeated in mainstream media. A critical mass of people around the world need to be made aware of what is really going on so that there is real and sustained pressure on governments to change their position on Palestine and stop supporting Israel's colonial project.
Maintaining this media narrative is not only a form of complicity in Israeli oppression against Palestinians, but also helps sustain it. 
The Listening Post

By the way, a report by the New York Times has said that while Egypt's government was publicly condemning a US decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, a state intelligence officer was asking influential TV hosts in the country to persuade their viewers to accept it.
The newspaper reported on Saturday that it had obtained audio recordings in which Ashraf al-Kholi, the intelligence officer, can be heard telling the hosts that Egypt, like its "Arab brothers, are denouncing this matter", but that "after that, this thing will become a reality".
According to the New York Times, Kholi made the phone calls to three well-known Egyptian talk show hosts, as well as an Egyptian actress.
Kholi reportedly suggested to the hosts that the Palestinians should be happy with the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, home to the Palestinian Authority.
Egypt submitted a resolution to the UN Security Council, rejecting the establishment of diplomatic missions to Jerusalem. The resolution was vetoed by the US, but a similar non-binding version was adopted by the General Assembly.
Prior to the decision, relations between Egypt and Israel appeared to be warming. Sisi met Binyamin Netanyahu for the first time in public in September 2017.
The two countries have cooperated on security issues in Egypt's Sinai desert, where allies of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS and Daesh) armed group have ramped up Deadly attacks in recent years. 

Ahed Tamini: Living Resistance Tour

Israel's occupation and oppression work in various ways. Residents of the Palestinian village Beit Omar in the West Bank discovered last week that the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, had posted threatening notices on their homes and businesses. The notices, published in Arabic and signed by a Shin Bet agent known as “Captain Amar,” threaten to revoke work permits from families whose children are suspected of throwing stones. Here goes the translation into English: 

Hello all,
As you know, a large portion of the breadwinners in the town have work permits that allow them to travel inside the Green Line. These permits allow the families to live with dignity, to maintain their health, to build, to get an education, and to cover the various, heavy costs of living.
We support anyone who tries to make a living by the sweat of their brow. On the other hand, it is senseless to stretch out our hand and provide you a place of work, while discovering that your son is throwing stones or Molotov cocktails on the main road, which is used by both Israelis and Arabs. Stone throwing is more than a crime, it is attempted murder.
Therefore, there is no forgiveness regarding the fact that it is your duty as a parent to keep an eye on your child and make sure they do not disturb the peace — it makes no sense that you do not have control over him — in order to ensure their education and your family’s livelihood.
You should know, should we revoke your work permit, that we are not to blame.
Additionally, as a gesture of goodwill on our part, we have decided to look into the possibility of forgiving all those who ask to have a rescinded work permit returned, and we invest all we can in the matter.
We will dedicate a special day for submitting these requests with the beginning of the new year, on January 1, 2018 at 9 a.m.
We wish you all a happy new year.

The "kind" words do not make the notices any less threatening.
The village residents know Captain Amar, as well as his colleagues in the Shin Bet, quite well.
This is the everyday life of villagers living under perpetual collective punishment, including frequent night raids, arrests, tear gas, checkpoints, closures, and pressure to inform on neighbours, family members, and acquaintances to the occupation authorities.
Manwhile, a bill to amend existing regulation regulating the use of the death penalty passed its preliminary reading in Israel's parliament, the Knesset, on Wednesday, with backinf from Binyamin Netanyahu's ruling coalition.
It is meant to make it easier for judges to execute Palestinian political prisoners for "terrorist activity".
It is condemned as fascist by human rights groups, who fear it will give Israel "legal" cover to murder Palestinians.

Promises and Betrayals: Britain and the Holy Land

Journeyman: How Israel occupied Jerusalem


Caros Amigos 

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