- Other Issues
- October 10, 2010
- 8 minutes read
The Press as Political Player
The United Nations Human Rights Council this week adopted a resolution condemning Israel for its attack on the aid flotilla on May 31. The report said that there was evidence which justifies prosecuting Israel for the "willful killing, torture, inhuman treatment and causing of great suffering or serious injury to the innocent people who had attempted to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza". The experts added that "six of the deceased were the victims of summary executions, two of whom were shot after they were severely injured and could not defend themselves". They pointed out "grave violations of international law, international humanitarian law, and international human rights law" were committed. Nevertheless, the Belgian ambassador, speaking on behalf of the European Union recommended abstention. The American ambassador, Eileen Donahoe, stressed that Washington opposed the resolution, which means that they both support the crimes of murder and torture practiced by Israeli troops against unarmed civilians and think the crimes justified.
Despite the fact that the committee stressed that Israel committed "willful killing", the report drafters did not refer Israel to the International Criminal Court, as it should also have been referred after the Goldstone report in the wake of the war on Gaza (2008-9), during which Israel killed over 14,000 Palestinian civilians. Diplomats said the two decisions took into account public and private calls from Western countries and the Palestinian Authority to "avoid any measure which could create more difficulties for the recently resumed Middle East peace process". Yet, the two reports call for new discussions of the two issues in the Council’s session in March – April next year.
This is how murdering innocent people is treated – with softness, kindness, quiet, procrastination and deliquescence – only because the culprits are Israeli soldiers supported and protected in all their crimes by Western powers and because the victims are Arabs and Muslims from Palestine and Turkey.
Even the facts published in the report which characterized the "Israeli army’s violence" as "brutal" did not get its way to TV networks and other media. No one heard of that except those who follow the two cases closely, because those who own and run the media have reached such a degree of complicity with political actors that only what is allowed by political masters reaches the audience.
This is the only time that the Human Rights Council endorses a report which condemns Israel’s atrocities. Yet, the report did not get the support or coverage it deserves simply because the European Union and the United States hastened to oppose it pretending "concern over the peace process". The truth is rather their concern for Israel’s ability to continue to commit its crimes, persecute the Arab population and expel them from their houses, neighborhoods and cities to be replaced by foreign settlers.
The second intervention by the media this week has been the blackout on a group of Jewish activists on board of the boat Irene who sailed to Gaza to show the world that not all Jews support the Israeli blockade policy. Among them is holocaust survivor Reuven Moskovitz (82), the Captain of the ship Glyn Secker, former Israeli army officer Itamar Shapira and Assistant captain and former Israeli air force pilot Yonatan Shapira. How would the media cover such an event while the rulers of Israel shout and call for the Jewishness of the Israeli state? They try to build the peace talks on this foundation, which is a racist foundation, for an entity which includes Muslims and Christians; unless, by such slogan they intend to carry out ethnic cleansing against people who lived on this land for thousands of years.
Even when Israel alone is to blame for the logjam in the negotiations, the language used by spokesman of the US State Department tries to exonerate Israel of any responsibility. When Israel resumed building settlements, which amounts to ethnic cleansing against the natives, Philip Crowley said: "We are disappointed, but we remain focused on our long-term objective, and we’ll be talking to the parties about the implications of the Israeli decision". He used the word "parties" to imply that all parties are responsible for this obstacle, while in reality Israel alone was responsible for the failure of negotiations for the past twenty years.
Take another example. Palestinian child Karam Khaled Da’na, 13, was served a military court order to be removed from his family home to the prison of Ofer. Taken away by the Israeli soldiers, he shouted to his father that he wanted to go home to play with his brothers and sleep in his room. What would the EU and US ambassadors to the Human Rights Council say to this child? Would they abstain from voting? What if this child were one of their children? What would they say to the people of the neighborhoods of Selwan and Jarrah in Jerusalem as Israeli occupation courts have started passing rulings to take over ancient Arab neighborhoods, not mere houses, to eat up the Ancient Arab city and Judaize it as quickly as they can?
It is very relevant that in 2009 more than a hundred journalists were killed while doing their job. I have no doubt that all of them were trying to show the truth even paying for it by their lives which they sacrificed in all nobleness and honor.
Has the media, whose mission is to search for and show the truth, become complicit with politicians to hide the crimes committed against humanity in every possible way? For the media to be true to their original mission, they should tell the story of the native population’s suffering with the settlers, as it is, in order to go beyond the judgments of the ambassadors of the European Union and the United States and reach out to the conscience of the free world which, no doubt, will support Palestinian justice when it realizes the enormity of the injustice and persecution Palestinians suffer day and night.
* Prof. Bouthaina Shaaban is Political and Media Advisor at the Syrian Presidency, and former Minister of Expatriates. She is also a writer and professor at Damascus University since 1985. She’s got Ph.D. in English Literature from Warwick University, London. She was the spokesperson for Syria. She was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.