How to Justify a Murder – Lessons in Israeli Journalism

"Friday, 17 April 2009, Bilin Village: A resident has been killed by Israeli forces during a demonstration. Basem Abu Rahme, 29 years of age, was shot in the chest with a high-velocity tear gas projectile. He was evacuated to Ramallah hospital in critical condition, where he died of his injury. According to eyewitnesses, Basem was on a hill with several journalists to the side of other demonstrators. Soldiers opened fire from 40 meters, aiming directly with the tear-gas projectiles… Basem Abu Rahme is the 18th individual to be killed by Israeli forces during a demonstration against the Wall."

That’s the most objective piece of Journalism I found on the matter. It’s the YouTube description to the video showing Abu Rahme’s shooting. If that’s not ironic enough, lets have a shameful look at how the Israeli mainstream media covers a murder.

Channel 10 – Main Stream Friday Report
Just for fun, I included the sickening advert for Tapuzina, an Israeli orange drink, boasting the values of friendly cops and the sexy scabs, who enjoy a good hosing. Surprisingly enough, Basem Abu Rahme’s murder actually made it to first spot, in the Friday report. Don’t get your hopes up, read the translation (I tried to keep it as literal as possible, in order for mentality to be found in translation) to understand how Israel excuses itself of murder. For more perspective, I also included the second article of the "heroic terrorism prevention" in a settlement.


Ha’aretz – The "Leftist" Media of the "Elites"

one article reporting the murder of Basem Ibrahim Abu Rahme by Israeli soldiers. It gets his age wrong and issue a statement from the IDF as an opener:

"approximately 100 protesters had attempted to tear down part of the separation fence while hurling rocks at security forces. IDF troops responded to the mayhem by employing demonstration dispersal devices."

Following this biased statement, we’re assured that a joint medical inquiry will be made with the Palestinians. The term "the Palestinians" showed up in the Channel 10 article, as well. Obviously we can conclude that none of these journalists actually looked beyond their regular sources, who all happen to be the same guy. Small country, small world, small journalists. But what really bugged me is that they didn’t say "Palestinian authority"/ "Red Crescent"/ "Palestinian hospitals"- they said "the Palestinians". Who are they talking about? Who did the IDF talk with? Where can I verify this claim? (Especially since the IDF has a bad history of flagrant self-inquiring.)

At this point, finally, the article explains that tear gas grenades (hey if Israel calls it that, it’s only fair I go with them on this one) can’t be fired directly into a crowd. The word "illegal" isn’t used. Then a paragraph on the background of the fence dispute:

"Israel began building the West Bank separation fence during a wave of Palestinian suicide bombings, and says it is necessary to keep attackers out of Israel. Palestinians see the barrier as a land grab and regularly hold protests against its construction."

See how easily we can blame the oppressed, but still giving their side of it, as though we were reporting fairly? The last paragraph of this excruciatingly short article (a man died, no?) continues to pretend at balanced reporting:

"Two months ago, an American citizen sustained serious injuries when a tear-gas grenade hit his head during the weekly Bil’in demonstration."

To balance the damage of that off, they finish with:

"According to an IDF inquiry, the grenade first hit the ground, and only then ricocheted, hitting the young man’s head."

Well if that’s what the crowd-grenade-shooting IDF says, I guess we’ll just have to take their word for it. After all, their former commander in chief keeps on telling us they’re the most moral army in the world.

Once again, in order to feel that we’re human, we have some wanker with a "moral piece", equating our contemporary murder to some biblical murder. The man may have had good intensions, but he’s lenses are so fogged up with self-righteousness, he can’t bring himself to view Basem Ibrahim Abu Rahme as a human being. If he did, maybe the allegory would have been needless, because he could just write about the man directly. Maybe he would do some journalism and go interview the man’s family and friends. Instead he opted to glorify himself as righteous prophet.

Yediot Acharonot – It’s the Little Things
Yediot Acharonot is the most widely read paper in Israel. Although they tried to be more objective, it was those pesky "Palestinian sources say"/ "protestors claim" [Hebrew]. In Israel both aren’t trust worthy, as they are "the enemy" and "enemy sympathizers". So any reporting done that is accompanied by those words, pretty much loses its meaning. And it’s not like they’ve got better sources (got the age wrong, too).

In order to balance their slightly-balanced reporting, another article [Hebrew] was published yesterday, about yet another casualty of the tear-gas grenades. So in the same paragraph that says that a Palestinian was hit in the face with a canister and this is just a week after Basem’s death, they also mention that 13 soldiers and border guard fighters have been lightly injured in the confrontations.

An activist was quoted, asserting that the canister hits are no accident. The activist was Jonathan Pollak, who is known as Israeli leader of the struggle against the wall, and with that kind of title you can make sure readers are pissed and not really reading. The article concludes with one paragraph on the numbers of soldiers injured in these demonstrations, by flying objects. And another paragraph detailing the financial damage at the Bilin area. The final sentence is that fear mongering cherry on top (limited by my translation):

"In order to deal with the violations of order, the army is forced to divert forces from their primary mission- fighting the infrastructures of terror and protecting the citizens of the country."


Update (6/5/09):

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