As I write these words, Palestinian journalist Mohammad Alqiq is on the eighty-second day of his hunger strike, and may well be taking his last breaths, protesting his illegal and unjustifiable arrest by Israel. As this humanitarian drama is taking place, the Israeli media is obsessed with some infantile rivalry between Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Israeli President Rivlin, arguably, two of the stupidest men in the Middle East, and typically, the story of Alqiq barely gets mentioned. This of course is no surprise. The Israeli media is a combination of tabloid garbage and self-righteousness justifying Israeli crimes. In fact, trying to watch the news via the Israeli media is all together a mind numbing experience, making Fox news seem like serious journalism.
With very few exceptions, the Israeli media reports as though their heads are so deep in the sand they can’t tell if it’s day or night. The racist segregation enforced by Israel is so effective that as an Israeli you can spend an entire lifetime living minutes away from Gaza and know nothing about Gaza other than what is offered by the Israel media. Unless it is commending the Israeli forces for their courage in fighting Hamas terrorists, or perhaps reporting about a funeral of a soldier who gave his or her life defending us from Hamas terrorists, there is rarely a word about the conditions in Gaza.
Lately, the Israeli press is obsessed with the fact the former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is going to jail. Olmert was tried and after many years convicted for corruption that took place during his term as mayor of Jerusalem and now, finally after appeals and delays he is in jail.
Olmert will serve his prison term in a special VIP section of a minimum security prison. Because he is a former PM and needs secret service protection, a special secure section was built for him in the prison. So the Israel media ponders whether he will be lonely, will the odors and sounds of prison bother him. They also remembered to point out that Israel already has a former president behind bars and had a former cabinet member.
The Olmert story demonstrates the dishonesty which plagues Israeli society and is typical of the Israeli media. Olmert was Prime Minister during the Israeli massacre in Gaza that began in December 2008. A massacre Israel named “Cast Lead.” Ehud Olmert is a war criminal. He was directly responsible for the murder of at least one thousand and five hundred men, women and children in Gaza. He is responsible for untold thousands who were injured and made homeless in Gaza. But he was only charged for stealing money and will serve a symbolic nineteen-month prison sentence and not the life sentence a war criminal of such proportions deserves. But in Israel murdering Palestinians is not a crime.
No one in the Israeli media asked how is it that this war criminal was not charged with murder but only a symbolic corruption charge. This is because other than Gideon Levi and Amira Hass who write for Ha’aretz daily, there are no dissenting voices in the Israeli media. Even Ha’aretz, a liberal establishment paper is read by very few people, many of whom live abroad. What one learns from the Israeli media is that Palestine does not exist, Gaza had disappeared long ago, and all there is to write and talk about is tabloid news. On occasion, when a Palestinian breaks out and attacks an Israeli they take a moment to report the incident and they might even follow up with an “in-depth” report. For example, there was a report recently on Israeli television’s channel 10 called “Children Terrorists” looking into the reasons behind the phenomenon or young Palestinian child-terrorists.
This report conveniently glides over the fact that there is no such thing as “child-terrorists,” at least no Palestinian ones. There is a phenomenon of Israeli soldiers, police and plain civilian vigilantes murdering young Palestinians and then claiming that they were “terrorists.” There is no reference in the report that Israel has declared a war on Palestinian children, arresting and abusing children on a regular basis, as a policy. There is however “in-depth analysis” as to the influences that radicalized them. The reporters went into Shuafat refugee camp near Jerusalem to see these children first hand. In one instance, as the camera shows young children in the street, the reporter says: “these children know the ones who infiltrated Jerusalem intending to commit acts of terror. In fact, thousands of these children have been arrested and interrogated by the security forces.”
The slight of hand in which the lies are perpetuated is indicative of the Israeli PR magic show. The reporter is admitting that these children are constantly harassed by the police, though he leaves out that this is done without their parents being present and without access to a lawyer. The actions of the security forces are, of course “justified” and “prove” that there is indeed such a thing as a “Child-terrorist.” The report goes on to talk about the danger in which brave soldiers and police officers find themselves due to the incitement against them on Palestinian websites and by Palestinian extremists. Though it does not explore the possibility that young Palestinians may be driven from time to time to attack armed soldiers and police officers because of the constant harassment, beating and killings of Palestinians by the army and the police. Admitting that this is the case would make it clear that it is not terrorism but legitimate resistance.
There is constant debate in Israel whether or not the security forces do enough to fight Palestinian resistance. Most people agree that the Israeli military is not killing enough Palestinians and that the politicians are too weak and therefore the Palestinians continue to kill Israelis. Some voices, from time to time tell a different story. Ha’aretz newspaper just came out with a story that it is because of the Israeli army’s policy of leniency that the current uprising is not worse. “Had the army killed more Palestinians” they tell us, “or reduced the number of Palestinians allowed to work in Israel far more Palestinians would likely be participating in violent clashes.” So, according to the Israeli media, the Israeli army is lenient and should be commended for it, Palestinians are permitted to enter Israel to work and therefore should be happy, and the “clashes” could be worse. And this just in, a famous Rabbi convicted of bribing a senior Israeli police officer, will be joining former Prime Minister Olmert in Prison.