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April 13, 2001
One Day of Independent Journalism

By Ahmed Amr.
Editor

 
 

You have to take off your hat in the presence of men like Robert Fisk and Phil Reeves, both British, both eloquent, both unyielding in their efforts to accurately report what their eyes see on the ground in the Middle East. A single day of reading the Independent of London will redeem your trust in the practitioners of the craft of journalism.

It is astounding that in America, a land where nearly 60,000 professionals are full-time journalists and editors, you still need to read a proper British journalist to get a realistic idea of what Israel is doing to undermine the Palestinian Independence uprising. This is no accident, especially in the major "national newspapers", who have a tradition of carefully censoring every little word about the Middle East in a manner that would make a Stalinist publisher proud.

Consider what goes unreported in the New York Times, a paper that has more coverage of Israel than of China, Mexico and Canada combined. They completely ignored the recent tirade by a senior Israeli Cleric in a Passover Sermon delivered on 4/9/2001. "It is forbidden to be merciful to them. You must send missiles to them and annihilate them. They are evil and damnable".

This talk of genocide came from the filthy mouth of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, leader of the Shas Party in a Passover sermon on April 9, 2001. He is also reported to have said that "The Lord shall return the Arabs' deeds on their own heads, waste their seed and exterminate them, devastate them and vanish them from this world,". More from this Rabbi "God will beat them up, destroy them, vanquish them, bring them down, and humiliate them,". "It is forbidden to be merciful to [the Arabs], you must give them missiles, with relish - annihilate them. Evil ones, damnable ones. May the Holy Name visit retribution on the Arabs' heads, and cause their seed to be lost, and annihilate them, and cause them to be vanquished and cause them to be cast from the world."

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef has previously described the Arabs as "snakes" and "vipers" and has opined that "God regretted every day that he had created the sons of Ishmael."

This is not just a story about a bigoted man of the cloth. This is not a lone desperado with a dozen followers in Hayden Lake, Idaho. This man is a major player in Sharon's government. His followers are in the IDF and have a license to shoot Palestinians at will. The party he leads is a major player in the Israeli coalition government. His influence dwarfs Haider's influence over the Austrian government. Yet his overtly racist sermon was not reported by the New York Times, because many of the bigots who work for Sulzberger share the Rabbi's views. They may be slightly more clever in the way they phrase their hate, but their sermons are no less lethal. For they are designed to either white wash a war criminal like Sharon or degrade the reader's vision of the daily crimes being committed by the State of Israel in the Palestinian colonies.

I have long maintained that it is foolish to assume that bigots at the New York Times can compartmentalize their racism and limit it to just the Palestinians. To propagate racist attitudes about Palestinians and pose as an anti-racist on this side of the pond must contribute to their warped intellect and their general lack of integrity as newsmen and as citizens of our Republic. Race and ethnicity continue to be polarizing forces in modern American society. We should all watch very carefully how the boys on 43rd street come down on issues relating to bigotry. On the one hand, they are hypersensitive about any criticism of the Jewish state. On the other hand, they pose as civil libertarians defending our rights as Americans against our secular state. They write about diversity and freedom, but they are willing collaborators of the brutal Israeli occupation and have encouraged the theft of native Palestinian lands in the West Bank and Gaza, the last colonial enterprise. The New York Times is a major ethnic player in the Middle East, it is the bully pulpit of the Israeli Lobby. It is a bizarre arrangement for a paper that markets itself as a national, nay, an international publication.

The only way to challenge the incessant Israeli propaganda on the pages of the New York Times and the Washington Post is to constantly check their stories against the English press. The boys working for Sulzberger and Graham know they can overwhelm a reader with sheer volume. Read the Independent of London on the subject of the Middle East and you will realize that something is badly broken at our major publishing houses. It comes down to intellectual corruption on a massive scale, every bit as damaging as the corruption of our political process.

Take a glimpse at the quality of coverage that is still available from a paper like The Independent of London. You judge if anything close could make the pages of an American paper. It is beyond disgusting that Americans are being subjected to a marketing campaign on behalf of a foreign government conducting an illegal, lethal, racist military occupation. Fortunately, as many of us turn to the internet for reliable well-balanced coverage, you will still encounter many courageous Journalists who want to give you a straight story on the situation on the ground. I count Robert Fisk and Phil Reeves among the greatest of modern English language journalists. They work for a paper that deserves its name, The Independent.

The following is a sampling of the journalism you get at the Independent of London

"look at the nearest Jewish settlements and you see armed Israeli civilians, soldiers, border guards, tank crews. If Arafat is lectured by George W Bush on the need to "control violence", who is controlling Israeli violence?"

"Here death is administered by Israel on a far greater scale than by Palestine. Because Israel (and its settlers) are occupying Arab land. Palestine is not occupying Israel."

Robert Fisk in Ramallah
The Independent (4/11/2001)

By Phil Reeves in Hebron [The Independent - 11 April 2001]: " There are fears that an explosion is imminent, detonated by six months of bloodshed that has seen human rights abuses on a massive scale, from the killing and maiming of unarmed Arabs by the Israeli army and the fatal attacks on Jewish civilians by Palestinian gunmen, to the daily misery of punitive blockades and curfews. Abuses are found on both sides - Palestinian gunmen are found to have violated international law by deliberately selecting and killing Israeli civilians - but the bulk of the blame is laid at the door of the Israeli army and the Jewish settlers whom it defends."

"Jewish settlers have rampaged through the streets, attacking Palestinian property and in one case destroying a Palestinian shop with a pipe bomb. And the 30,000 Palestinians who live in the part of Hebron under Israeli rule, the so-called H2 zone, have been confined to their homes under military curfew, unable to send children to school, to open shops, or to go to work."

"The picture that emerges from the Human Rights Watch report is especially chilling. Researchers found evidence that Israel's soldiers have killed unarmed people who pose no serious threat, fired machine- guns indiscriminately into densely populated Arab areas, assassinated suspected enemies, stood idly by as Jewish settlers attacked Palestinians and others, routinely beat up Palestinians and shot at Arab vehicles on 'closed roads'".

"The report provides a disturbing list of examples of especially suspicious attacks by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), and demands that they be investigated."

"It also states that many of the people killed or wounded by Israeli troops near riot zones were unarmed bystanders. There was, for example, 18-year-old Arij al-Jabali who was shot in the stairway of her home on the day she was due to introduce her boyfriend to her family. In another particularly shocking instance, Israeli soldiers shot dead a 22-year-old Palestinian as he was standing on his roof, at least 200 metres from the trouble spot."

Nor, it says, has the IDF made any serious effort to stop frequent attacks on Palestinian civilians by Jewish settlers. Settlers have attacked many Arab homes in Hebron's Old City, often directly under the eyes of IDF soldiers, and have regularly beaten, shot at and stoned Palestinians.

By Phil Reeves in Hebron [The Independent - 11 April 2001]