CHARLIE HEBDO CASE DEMONSTRATES LOUDLY AND NOISILY WESTERN DOUBLE STANDARDS ON FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
by Syarif Hidayat*
“Following Wednesday’s attack on Paris-based satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, many Muslims found themselves in the spotlight once again, forced to apologize for a crime they had nothing to do with. Such is typically not the case for acts of violence perpetrated by other religious groups.” – huffingtonpost.com
“Over 50 attacks, including shootings, have been carried out against Muslims across France in less than a week since a fatal raid on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, the country’s Muslim community says. The 54 assaults comprised of 21 cases of gunfire and grenade throwing at Islamic buildings and 33 cases of threats, said Abdallah Zekri, a spokesman for the monitoring body at the Central Council of Muslims in France, on Monday,January 12, 2015,” according to Press TV.
Chalie Hebdo’s repeated blasphemies against Prophet Muhammad PBUH have hurt Muslims throughout the world.
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. The God Almighty Allah says in Al-Qur’an: “The Prophet is closer to the believers than their ownselves, and his wives are their (believers’) mothers (as regards respect and marriage). And blood relations among each other have closer personal ties in the Decree of Allâh (regarding inheritance) than (the brotherhood of) the believers and the Muhajirûn (emigrants from Makkah), except that you do kindness to those brothers (when the Prophet SAW joined them in brotherhood ties). This has been written in the (Allâh’s Book of Divine) Decrees (Al¬Lauh Al¬Mahfûz).” (Al-Qur’an, Surah Surah Al-Ahzab, Verse: 6)
The unfair treatment of western countries regimes and western media towards Islam and Muslims is not new to many people. The biased reporting, stereotype stories and hidden hate towards Muslims of the world are facts of western journalism. These champions of the free world who claim that their reporting standards are very high, they are honest and feel responsible to provide correct information to their audiences are in fact, have dual standards of reporting. They intentionally dramatize a situation in order to market their programs and increase their market share at any cost. They are not honest when a news item or a story involves a practicing Muslim or religion of Islam.
The Muslims of North America, Europe and Australia have been under a constant threat from these media organizations. These media organizations including all TV network, most of the Radio stations and all-major newspapers of North America, Europe and Australia have been controlled / influenced by special interest groups. These special interest groups through the western media are not only misleading the people of North America, Europe and Australia but also trying to build walls between Islam and the people of other faiths such as Christians and Jews.
The western Media circus’ biased news reporting are terrorizing people with unbalanced news and lies that create fear and xenophobia. Terror is the most dreaded weapon in modern age and the Western media is mercilessly using it against its own people. It can add fear and helplessness in the psyche of the people of Europe and the United States as well as Australia. It means that what the enemies of the Western countries cannot do, its media is doing that.
The Western mainstream media circus apply a policy of controlled news reporting on their domestic problems and at the same time they apply outright lies or biased news reporting on international affairs especially on Islam, the Muslim World, the Middle East Conflict and international terrorism.
These western media circus members that include electronic (TV Stations and Radios) and print media are the most powerful Hate Propaganda Machines Against Islam and the Muslim world!
Problems can be traced back 1400 years
In many cases, the media’s reports about Islam are incorrect due to ignorance. This is one of the reasons why the West often hates Islam. In contrast to what many Westerners think of Islam, Islam is a peaceful religion, which does not promote any injustice or crime. Stereotypes about Islam are not new to Western culture. Problems can be traced back 1400 years. At that time, Islam and Christianity were involved in the Crusades in the 1100’s and in the Ottoman and Moorish control in Europe. Islam spread quickly to the West, and started to threaten the position of the Christian Church and the ruling class.
The Western elites, mainly the governments and the churches, then became highly involved in seeing that negative images were presented about Islam. As a result, not only were battles fought against Islam, but also a war of words was initiated to make sure that Islam would not have any converts or sympathizers in the West. These kinds of actions and feelings that the West had long ago still seem to be the case in the West today.
Today, the West, with little or no understanding of Islamic history, has identified a new enemy, “a new demon that has replaced the Red menace of the Cold war, i.e., radical Islam”. This “radical Islam”, a stereotype common to Western thought, portrays Muslims as fundamentalists or potential terrorists. Some of these ideas that the Western people have about Islam are due to the mass media of the West. Reporters who cover the Muslim world often know very little details about it. The media then develops a distorted image of Islam that Western culture adopts.
A major factor which contributes to Islamic stereotyping in the West is due to the media’s ignorance of selecting their words that describe Muslims. Some common names heard or seen in the news about Muslims are “extremist” or “terrorist”. These words are misleading and are mainly anti-Islamic. The media rarely uses more neutral terms such as “revivalist” or “progressives”. The Western media also creates the idea that Muslims are “returning” to Islam. This is not true in most cases, because many Muslims have never left Islam in the first place. Islam has always been a big part of their lives.
If the terrorist attack anywhere on this planet was perpetrated by a Muslim, Fox News, CNN, BBC AND THE OTHER MEMBERS OF THE WESTERN MEDIA CIRCUS would be working overtime with breaking news almost every minute, COMPLETE SILENT or SO LITTLE IS SAID in the western media circus news reporting when the terrorists are Christian, Zionist, Jewish fundamentalists or extremists …They simply call the perpetrators as Right-wing extremists or right-wing nuts, paranoid schizophrenic persons or a deranged persons.
The US-led western media circus double standards is very much the same as their governments double standards policies on Islam and Muslim world. Here are some of the Zionist-controlled Western media circus “BIASED” or “IDIOTIC” Interpretation Standards ON TERRORISM, REVOLUTION, REVOLUTIONARIES, DICTATOR, STATE TERRORISM and AGGRESSION:
If a terrorist suspect is a Muslim = Muslim terrorist.
If a terrorist suspect is a Christian = Right-wing nut.
Israeli state terrorism = Self defense.
Palestinian resistance and freedom fighting = Palestinian terrorism.
Palestinian Freedom Fighters=Palestinian Terrorists.
The US state terrorism = “War on terror.”
A dictator friendly to the US-led western regimes = A democratically elected leader.
A democratically elected president, but unfriendly to the US-led western regimes = A dictator.
The US aggression = Intervention to liberate local citizens from a dictator.
Revolutionaries (with US interests) = Freedom Fighters
Revolutionaries (against US interests) = Terrorists
When u attack White people, they call it Racism.
When u attack Jewish people, they call it Anti-semitism
When u attack ur country, they call it treason.
When u attack ur religious sect, they call it hate.
But, When u attack the Muslim countries, they call it “War on Terror.”
When u attack the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, they call it FREEDOM of SPEECH and When u produce a mocking caricature of Prophet Muhammad PBUH, they call it FREEDOM of EXPRESSION.
This week’s special edition of the Charlie Hebdo magazine, which recently came under a shooting attack in Paris, will feature caricatures of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad PBUH, says a lawyer for the French satirical weekly.
Richard Malka announced on Monday, January 12, 2015, that this week’s issue of Charlie Hebdo, which will be out on Wednesday with a million-copy print run, will “naturally” include new cartoons of Islam’s holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him).
Charlie Hebdo’s Wednesday special edition, which also contains usual “jokes” on politics and religions, will reportedly be translated into 16 languages with many copies available outside France.
The French magazine has repeatedly provoked Muslim ire by publishing cartoons mocking holy Prophet Muhammad PBUH.
The announcement was made after a recent wave of terrorist attacks in France which began on January 7 when the office of Charlie Hebdo came under assault by two gunmen. Some 12 people were killed in the incident that left France in huge shock and fear. Two days later, two brothers, Said and Cherif Kouachi, suspected of murdering the journalists, were killed after being cornered at a printing workshop in the town of Dammartin-en-Goele.
In a posthumous video released on Sunday, Amedy Coulibaly, a gunman who killed four hostages in another terror attack at a Paris supermarket on Friday before he was slain by police, claimed he was acting on behalf of the ISIL Takfiri group in coordination with the two brothers who attacked Charlie Hebdo. He said the two brothers were affiliated with the al-Qaeda terrorist group. The terror attacks have drawn widespread condemnations from Muslims in France and the entire world.
On January 9, French President Francois Hollande called on the nation to remain vigilant in the face of the shocking terror assaults in the country, saying the “fanatics” behind the violence “have nothing to do with Islam.”
Stephen Lendman in his article titled “The Charlie Hebdo Rally: Media Distortions and Hypocrisy in Paris” published in globalresearch.ca, writes Sunday headlines said huge crowds massed in Paris. Protected by “unparalleled” security, according to AP. Including thousands of police and military forces. Along the two-mile Boulevarde Voltaire route marchers took. An “unprecedented tribute,” said Reuters. Showing “unity and defiance,” claimed The New York Times.
“(S)olidarity following three days of terrorist attacks that badly shook the nation,” said the Washington Post. “Paris displays defiance with huge rally,” headlined the Wall Street Journal. “Paris urged to ‘come in numbers’ to defy Islamist terror,” said the Los Angeles Times.
London’s Guardian said one million “expected for anti-terror rally.”
Al Jazeera headlined “Huge crowds attend Paris solidarity rally.”
BBC said “Vast Paris rally…Unity after 17 people were killed during three days of deadly attacks.” Le Figaro said “(A)ll major (Parisian) streets are saturated” leading to “place de la Republique.” Le Monde headlined “(H)uge crowds marched against terrorism in Paris and France.” An invitation circulating on social media said: “Indignation. Resistance. Solidarity, I am Charlie.”
Western leaders’ Big Lies
Organizers said Sunday’s rally expressed solidarity for “freedom of the press. (F)reedom of speech. France won’t be cowed by terrorists.” Around 40 world leaders attended. Reuters said 44. Some reports said 50. Including around two dozen Western European ones. Current French President Francois Hollande and former president Nicolas Sarkozy were accompanied by Germany’s Angela Merkel. Britain’s David Cameron.
Spain’s Mariano Rajoy. Italy’s Matteo Renzi. EU Council President Donald Tusk. EU Commission President Jean-Claude Junker.
Other European leaders. Eight African ones. Outgoing US Attorney General Eric Holder and US ambassador to France Jane Hartley representing America. Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney represents Canada. Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman represent Israel. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov represents Russia. Putschist/oligarch president Petro Poroshenko represents Ukraine.
NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoletenberg is there. So is European Parliament President Martin Schulz. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon came. Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas arrived.
One source lists the following participating countries in alphabetical order:
Albania. Algeria. Austria. Belgium. Benin. Britain. Bulgaria. Canada. Croatia. Czech Republic. Denmark. Gabon. Egypt. Finland. Georgia. Germany. Greece. Hungary. Israel. Jordan. Latvia. Niger. Mali. Palestine. Poland. Portugal. Romania. Russia. Spain. Sweden. Switzerland.
The Netherlands. Tunisia. Turkey. United Arab Emirates. Ukraine. United States.
To encourage turnout, public transport into and throughout Paris is free on Sunday. International train operator Thalys cut fares to the capital. Right-wing National Front leader Marine Le Pen urged her supporters to rally outside Paris. In retaliation for exclusion from event preparations.
French officials condemned Paris killings. The way US ones denounced the deaths of New York police officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos.
“(M)ourning the loss of these brave souls,” said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Vice President Biden joined him on site. Obama sent a message of condolence. In response to last week’s Paris killings, he ludicrously called them “an attack on journalists…on our free press … underscor(ing) the degree to which these terrorists fear freedom.”
“(O)ur thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who’ve been lost in France, and with the people of Paris and the people of France.”
Obama’s comments are rife with hypocrisy.
Other leaders voice similar Big Lies including Netanyahu a serial liar
Israel’s Netanyayu is a serial liar. US-led NATO leaders and Netanyahu are war criminals multiple times over. Who mourns for millions US-dominated NATO victims? Murdered in cold blood? Noncombatant men, women and children.
Lost Palestinian lives. Slaughtered by Israel. Others ruthlessly persecuted.
What about on average one defenseless Black youth per day killed by US cops?
Who holds solidarity marches for justice? Mourns victims. Supports surviving family members. Rallies for justice.
Demands state-sponsored terrorism end. The madness of one imperial war after another. Senseless slaughter and destruction.
Trillions of dollars down a black hole of war profiteering, waste, fraud and abuse. Wars are dirty. Merciless. Unjust. Lawless.
Good ones don’t exist. Poet Robert Burns said “(m)ore inhumanity has been done by man himself than any other of nature’s causes.”
“Man’s inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn.” Out of sight and mind worldwide. Every day of the year.
Who notices their suffering? Who explains their grief? Who televises it?
What world leaders express solidarity? Which ones demand no more wars?
George Santanyana said “(o)nly the dead have seen the end of war.”
Howard Zinn denounced the myth of good wars. Preventing peace. Perpetuating violence.
WW II was worst of all. WW III if waged will be the war to end all future ones. Today’s destructive WMDs can end life on earth.
Zinn said “(w)e need to decide that we will not go to war, whatever reason is conjured up by the politicians or the media, because war in our time is always indiscriminate, a war against innocents, a war against children.”
No “flag (is) large enough to cover the shame of killing (millions) of innocent people.”
Over a century ago, Mark Twain expressed outrage about America slaughtering Filipinos. Things were like today on a smaller scale.
Imperial conquest is vicious. Having nothing to do with liberating oppressed people. Or championing democracy. Free expression. A free press. Freedom of assembly, association, and religion.
The right of people to hold ruling authorities accountable. Receive redress for grievances. Institute governance of, by and for everyone. Equitably and just. A new dawn.
Mark Twain said “I have seen that we do not intend to free, but to subjugate the people of the Philippines.” “We have gone there to conquer, not to redeem.” “And so I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land.”
“We have pacified some thousands of the islanders and buried them; destroyed their fields, burned their villages, turned their widows and orphans out-of-doors, (and) subjugated the remaining ten million by Benevolent Assimilation, which is the pious new name of the musket…”
He proposed a new American flag. Envisioning one “with the white stripes painted black and the stars replaced by the skull and cross-bones.”
Appalled that General Jacob Smith ordered his troops to “kill and burn.”
“(T)his is no time to take prisoners,” he said. (T)he more you kill and burn, the better.” “Kill all above the age of ten. (T)urn (the Philippines into) a howling wilderness.”
Wars are lunatic acts. Resolving nothing. Preventing any hope for peace. Begetting endless violence. Waging perpetual wars reflects official US policy. Crimes of war, against humanity and genocide follow. Millions of corpses attest to America’s barbarity.
Paris mourns 17 lost lives. Avoidable tragedies. Victims deserving to live. Get equitable and just treatment. Who mourns for the daily victims of US-dominated NATO ruthlessness? From ongoing imperial direct and proxy wars. Endless ones. Countless millions affected worldwide. The dead, dying, mutilated, suffering, deprived and exploited.
Who rallies on their behalf? Who demands lawless imperial slaughter end? Who accepts nothing less than peace, equity and justice?
Who puts their bodies on the line for them? Who resists growing tyranny in Western societies?
Who fights for democratic freedoms fast slipping away? Who demands responsible governments replace ill-serving ones? Who goes all out for what matters most?
Public rallies achieve nothing. Nor high-minded rhetoric. Committed grassroots activism for change alone works. Sustained for the long haul. No matter the cost. The alternative is continued subjugation. Ruler/serf societies. Ones unfit to live in. The kind Washington intends instituting worldwide. Unless mass public outrage stops it once and for all.
Rally for right over wrong daily. Support what matters most. Forget about Je suis Charlie. Propaganda rubbish shoved down our throats. By Western oppressors vital to oppose. The fundamental issue of our time!, concluded Stephen Lendman. He lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
Over 50 anti-Muslim attacks in France in less than a week
Over 50 attacks, including shootings, have been carried out against Muslims across France in less than a week since a fatal raid on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, the country’s Muslim community says. The 54 assaults comprised of 21 cases of gunfire and grenade throwing at Islamic buildings and 33 cases of threats, said Abdallah Zekri, a spokesman for the monitoring body at the Central Council of Muslims in France, on Monday,January 12, 2015.
The figures, which do not include raids in Paris and its suburbs, were provided by the French Interior Ministry, Zekri added. He also noted that the number of attacks in such a short time is unusually high, calling on security forces to better monitor Islamic sites as well as social media.
The figures were released following a recent wave of terrorist attacks in France which began on January 7 when the office of Charlie Hebdo came under assault by two gunmen. Some 12 people were killed in the incident.
Two days later, two brothers, Said and Cherif Kouachi, suspected of murdering the journalists, were killed after being cornered at a printing workshop in the town of Dammartin-en-Goele. In a posthumous video released on Sunday, January 11, 2015, Amedy Coulibaly, a gunman who killed four hostages in another terror attack at a Paris supermarket on Friday before he was slain by police, claimed he was acting on behalf of the ISIL Takfiri group in coordination with the two brothers who attacked Charlie Hebdo.
He also said the two brothers were affiliated with the al-Qaeda terrorist group. The terror attacks have drawn widespread condemnation from Muslims in France and the entire world.
Survey Reveals Americans’ Double-Standard When Evaluating Religious Violence.
Following Wednesday’s attack on Paris-based satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, many Muslims found themselves in the spotlight once again, forced to apologize for a crime they had nothing to do with. Such is typically not the case for acts of violence perpetrated by other religious groups, and a 2011 Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) survey may offer a hint as to why the double-standard exists.
The PRRI survey showed evidence of contradictions in Americans’ attitudes toward religious violence. Most notably, 83 percent of Americans said that self-proclaimed Christians who commit acts of violence in the name of Christianity are not really Christians, while 48 percent of Americans said that self-proclaimed Muslims who commit acts of violence in the name of Islam are not really Muslims. Republican respondents (55 percent) were more likely than Democrat respondents (40 percent) to say a self-identified Muslim who commits acts of violence in the name of Islam is really Muslim.
The same report revealed that only 58 percent of American adults view Muslims favorably, and a 2014 Pew report showed that just 38 percent say they personally know someone who is Muslim. In an article published at the time of the study’s release, PRRI CEO Robert P. Jones relayed that the double standard was most prominently employed by those who identify as Christian but least likely to appear among millennials. Jones said at the time that the younger generation might “facilitate a resolution of the public’s current ambivalence about the place of American Muslims in society,” but offered less optimism in an email to HuffPost on Friday.
A September 2014 Pew report found that 50 percent of American adults say Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence among its followers — up from 40 percent in 2011, Jones said. “These recent increases in Americans’ concerns about the links between Islam and violence,” Jones argued, “suggest that, if anything, these findings about the American double standard on religious violence may understate the size of this gap today.”
Ben Norton in his article titled “Media obsesses over ‘free speech’ in Charlie Hebdo case while ignoring Israeli targeting of journalists” published in mondoweiss.net January 9, 2015, wrote The story of the January 7 2015 storming of the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical French publication with a history of racist, anti-Muslim caricatures, has inundated the Western media. The attack, tragically leaving at least 12 dead, has been touted as a “free speech” issue by the first government in the world to ban pro-Palestinian demonstrations. (This framing has distorted the fact that it was torture at Abu Ghraib and the US war on Iraq that left 100,000s of civilians dead, not cartoons, that radicalized the impoverished shooters, sons of émigrés from Algeria, a country that was a French colony until the end of a bloody war of independence in 1962.)
The subsequent taking of hostages in a Parisian kosher supermarket by an acquaintance of the shooters was an even more despicable act, leading to the deaths of at least four. Both incidents are horrific tragedies, and deserve harsh condemnation. Yet they have exponentially overshadowed equally tragic recent attacks on journalists. In its November 2012 attack on Gaza, “Operation Pillar of Defense,” the Israeli government admitted that it was targeting journalists. This trend was revisited only months ago in Israel’s summer 2014 assault, “Operation Protective Edge,” an incursion that left 2,310 dead—over 1,500 of whom were civilians, including at least 500 children—and 10,626 wounded.
While the Western media has scrupulously tracked the Charlie Hebdo attack and subsequent hostage crisis for the scantest of updates, and while the calamity dominates discussions on social media—and also while the Fourth Estate ceaselessly speaks of ISIS’ heinous killings of Western journalists—both the press and popular culture continue to ignore August 2014 UN documents that inculpate Israel for engaging in very similar acts of terror. The Press Emblem Campaign (PEC), a Geneva-based independent non-governmental organization aimed “at strengthening the legal protection and safety of journalists in zones of conflict and civil unrest or in dangerous missions,” carries special consultative UN status, conducting investigations on behalf of the body. In its 28 August report, “90 journalists killed so far in 2014: a new step is required by the UN in order to combat impunity,” it notes that:
Israel and the Occupied Territory of the State of Palestine: in the context of the operation “Protective Edge” launched by the Israeli forces on 8 July 2014 on the Gaza Strip, 15 journalists have been killed (some of them being purposely targeted), many others have been injured because of the shelling of their homes, 16 Palestinian journalists have lost their homes as a result of Israeli bombing and shelling, 8 media outlets have been destroyed, in addition the Israeli army deliberately disturbed the broadcasting of 7 radio and TV stations and websites (l), many journalists have been arrested by the Israeli forces. Al-Aqsa radio, Sawt Al-Quds radio, Sawat Al-Sha’eb, Filistin Il-Yom TV and website, Al-Ra’ei website
In a more detailed document from the day before, “15 journalists and media workers killed during operation “Protective Edge”: the responsible have to be held accountable,” the PEC and the UN indicate that the houses of 16 journalists that were destroyed in Israeli attacks were “often purposely targeted.” The report also reveals that, of the eight Gaza media outlets Israel destroyed, five were deliberately bombed. Israeli forces shelled three headquarters of Al-Aqsa TV, where 325 employees worked, and “deliberately disturbed the broadcasting of 7 radio and TV stations and websites, and used these stations to broadcast inciting messages against the Palestinian resistance, as they did in their previous attacks on the Gaza Strip.”
The PEC states that the “Israeli violations against Palestinian journalists are the most dangerous, life threatening, and the most frequent” and flatly “denounces the harassment against journalists and media workers as well as the smear campaign of the Israeli diplomacy against foreign journalists falsely accused to work for Hamas that leads to a sneaky form of self-censorship.” Most of the murdered journalists were in their twenties, with ages ranging from 21 to 59. All except for one, an Italian, were Palestinian. The majority worked for local Palestinian media networks, although two Associated Press reporters were killed, including the only foreign reporter killed. Some were wearing vests clearly marked “Press”; others were in media vehicles with “TV” plainly printed on the hood. In one case, a 21-year-old Palestinian photojournalist was taking pictures in the Al-Jineene neighborhood in Rafah when an Israeli drone shot him.
“The large number of targets and the way in which media organizations and journalists have been attacked by” Israeli forces, the UN statement reads, “suggest that a strategy has been finalized at the highest levels of the State of Israel. Targeting non-combatants is itself a war crime that, as such, must not enjoy impunity.” The PEC concludes calling upon the UN to investigate “the violation of the fundamental freedoms and rights of journalists and media workers, with a particular attention on the violation of the rights of women journalists” and the UN Human Rights Council’s independent, international commission of inquiry “to investigate and identify those responsible for the crimes committed against media outlet, journalists and media workers.”
“Constant Pressures” on Journalists
In a footnote to its report, the PEC draws attention to a French-language Algerian Huffington Post article that went completely ignored by the Western media (all translations mine): “TVE [Spanish Television] Journalist Yolanda Alvarez Attacked by Israel, Spanish Journalists Protest.” The story notes that the “Spanish press is unanimous in supporting Yolanda Alvarez, TVE correspondent in Jerusalem, victim of virulent attacks by the Israeli embassy in Madrid.” It also states that Alvarez’ Twitter page was “full of tweets of support coming from journalists or associations of journalists that spoke of the intimidation and the threats from the Israeli embassy.”
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) divulged that, according “to the testimonies of other journalists and media, the Israeli embassy in Israel maintains an attitude of permanent intimidation of Spanish journalists.” RSF denounced the “constant pressures” Israel put on journalists, and asked that Israel stop using “its diplomats as agents of pressure and propaganda.”
US media networks also pressured their own journalists not to present Israel’s attack in a negative light. NBC went so far as to pull Ayman Mohyeldin from Gaza, a veteran reporter who garnered international praise as one of the only two foreign journalists who had been in Gaza during Israel’s 2008-2009 assault on Gaza, Operation Cast Lead, in which the close US ally barred journalists from entering Gaza as it, in the words of Human Rights Watch, “repeatedly exploded white phosphorus munitions in the air over populated areas, killing and injuring civilians, and damaging civilian structures, including a school, a market, a humanitarian aid warehouse and a hospital.”
Institute for Policy Studies analyst Phyllis Bennis pointed out the irony that, as Israeli tanks rolled into Gaza, NBC “pulled the reporter who has done more than any other to show the human costs of the conflict there.” Because of popular pressure, Mohyeldin was eventually reinstated, yet there were numerous other incidents of the same forms of censorship and pressure occurring.
A Bad Year for Journalists
In its 2014 census on jailed journalists, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) revealed that 2014 was the second-worst year for jailed journalists in 24 years of data collection. Internationally, over 220 journalists are imprisoned, 60% of whom are held on anti-state charges of terrorism or subversion. This comes in a close second to 2012, in which 232 journalists were imprisoned—although the 2014 figure may actually be higher, as the report excludes journalists being detained by nonstate actors such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Violence against journalists, and particularly against journalists in the Middle East, is at record levels. 2014 was one of the most dangerous years for reporters in recent history, with at least 60 deaths, roughly half of which were in the Middle East—although CPJ estimates are conservative, so the actual figures are likely even higher. 2012 to 2014 constitutes the most dangerous period CPJ has on record.
CPJ deputy director Robert Mahoney warned that the “targeting of journalists has been increasing to alarming proportions,” expressing worries that journalists “are now losing the protected observer status that they had, and now they’ve become the story rather than being the witness to the story to some groups.” Only some of the stories about these persecuted journalists are told, nonetheless. Much of the Western media is speaking of the Charlie Hebdo shooting as a “free speech” issue, yet simultaneously ignoring Israel’s persistent stifling of Palestinian journalists’ right to not just free speech, but to life.
Explicit violent repression of journalists is not new behavior for Israel. In 2008, Israeli forces killed 23-year-old cameraman Fadel Subhi Shana’a. In the same year, Israel arrested award-winning journalist Mohammed Omer and brutally tortured him—a common practice. In 2004, Israeli occupation forces killed 22-year-old journalist Mohammed Abu Halima. There are countless more instances of such stories; there is a plethora of such tragedies. Yet these tragic stories are not told in the Western media. The countless nameless faces of the now forgotten Palestinian journalists are only nameless and forgotten because they were ignored, concluded Ben Norton. He is a freelance writer and journalist. His work has been published in CounterPunch, Electronic Intifada, Common Dreams, ThinkProgress, and ZNet, among other publications. His website can be found at BenNorton.com. (HSH)