How to Justify a Murder - Israeli Journalism 102
By Tali Shapiro at Jun 11, 2009
Since Bassem Abu Rahme was murdered, I've managed to visit Bil'in (his home town) 3 times (this Friday will be the fourth). I've met his Israeli-Jew (Ashkenazi to be precise) fiancée, I've met his friends and the children who adore him. All these people, the Israeli media have never met, never bothered to talk with, never cared to call his death a murder.
As we were leaving Bil'in, last Friday, in a mini-van cab, loaded with exited people (and 50 kites that were to go to Code Pink and the Coalition for Women, one of the friends of Anarchists Against The Wall got a phone call, telling him some one in Nil'in (neighboring village of Bil'in) was killed in the day's demonstration. The man was Yousef "Akil" Srour, aged 36 years. Left behind a pregnant wife and two children.
The Cloak of Impartiality
Channel 10 uses a simple and effective propaganda tactic (other than tucking the story of an ethnic and political murder somewhere mid segment and giving it 1 minute and 47 seconds): Facts and lies are stated as if they were all true, then spun, then lies and facts are mixed again (I apologize for the awkward translation, I try to be as literal as possible, so nothing will be lost in translation):
You'd have to really pay attention, as an Israeli, for this kind of reporting to help you understand the occupation. On one hand:
- One of the first things said is very astute: "Far away from the public eye"
- The fact that these protests are weekly.
- That this is the 5th protest-related death in Nil'in this year.
- That the wall (even though they call it a "fence") is being built on the Nil'in village lands.
- That Srour was hit by illegal, extra-large, live ammunition, shot by the army and that's the reason for his death.
- That four others were wounded.
- That soldiers have lost all sense of proportion and think that firing gas grenades at a crowed of people, some of which are children, is equivalent to throwing rocks.
On the other hand:
- Channel 10 doesn't even bother reporting the man's full name (Akil was his nickname) or exact age, they tell nothing about him on a personal level.
- They use the word "died" not "killed" or "murdered" (the word used- "neherag" is understood in hebrew as premature death). You'll actually notice that it's never a soldier who killed Srour, but a bullet. Kind of like the wall is being built, but no mention of who's building it.
- Whether the protest was violent or not may be negotiable, as the protestors do throw stones. However, the claim that the army retaliated is fallacious and one of the known Israeli tactics:
- Does that fact the "IDF forces have tried to arrest Srour in the past" excuse the fact that they shot his brother? Killed him? Wounded 4 others (one of which was 15- not mentioned)?
- Speaking of things not mentioned- 2 of the 5 deaths in Nil'in were minors (10 and 17), since the beginning of the Nil'in organized protests 35 people wounded by live ammunition. Also, exact details of the land annexation by the occupier are missing.
- To make sure the blame is laid in the right hands, we are shown footage of throwing rocks. We're told that it's at a jeep (just an innocent armored military jeep of an occupying force, frolicking through the village's unpaved roads), but the footage is cut, and Srour isn't present in the shot with the jeep. The army, we are told, retaliated.
- Channel 10 never explains why the army has resumed using a weapon it deamed illegal for dispersal.
- I know they said there was a preliminary investigation, but I do wonder what further investigation will be made, and wether Channel 10 will bother reporting it.
- And of course, the report concludes that the soldiers were scared for their lives. Now, this may actually be true, but then, knowing that this is a peaceful protest that happens every week (from what I've seen in Bil'in, first the soldiers shoot, only later the rocks start flying), you'd think the soldiers would relax. But from my own experience from the army, I testify that the army keeps you scared. Another question comes to mind: Was srour shot for throwing rocks at an armored jeep, or for getting too close to the occupying soldiers?
Left of the Stream
There wasn't much coverage of the issue, really. That was the mainstream media, let's focus on the "Leftist" Ha'aretz (bolds by me):
"Palestinian officials reported on Friday that a Palestinian demonstrator had been killed during the weekly anti-separation fence rally near the West Bank town of Na'alin.
Palestinian medical officials said 36-year-old Yusuf Srour had been killed by Israeli forces.
Medics said Srour was hit in the chest by a live bullet and another protester was wounded when soldiers fired at protesters.
Srour died minutes later, Mohammed Shahwan, a doctor on the ambulance called to the scene, told reporters. "
So far so good, right? Well, I have a bit of beef with the fact that all the sources are all Palestinian (the medics are easily assumed as such by the rest of the content). Although it's a step up from what Ha'aretz did with the Abu Rahme murder reporting, it's impossible to ignore that all the facts, stated in this first peragrraph, were given by Palestinians. Thus- in the Israeli mind- not trust worthy.
To prove my theory of the importance of the spokesperson, lets look at the following paragraphs (bolds by me):
"Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Border Police officers had opened fire with riot dispersal equipment when they came under a heavy barrage of rocks. He said live ammunition was not used.
Later, the IDF issued a statement saying that the victim was a Hamas activist central to the weekly anti-separation fence protests.
The statement went on to say that Srour and several other Palestinian activists had approached a Border Policeman, who felt his life was in danger and opened fire in the direction of their legs. Two of the other protesters were wounded, and Srour was killed.
The IDF also said that Srour had been arrested several times by Israeli forces over his involvement in violent protests."
All said by Israeli police and the IDF... must be true, I mean, after all, IDF is the most moral army in the world! (are my jokes getting old? So is the propaganda.)
We took a look at form, now lets take a look at content:
- "...Border Police officers had opened fire with riot dispersal equipment when they came under a heavy barrage of rocks. He said live ammunition was not used." - That's a lie. We actually know that the Ruger (live ammunition) was used and we know it's illegal, if we take care and compare and contrast the half truths given across the mainstream media. As to the reasons the officers shot, I'd refer you a few paragraphs back, in this post.
- "...the victim was a Hamas activist central to the weekly anti-separation fence protests." - Admitting Srour was a victim is a great first step to recovery and most probably a slip of the tongue. When Ha'aretz puts the weekly protests in the context of Hamas, the ill-informed reader may understand the protests to be acts of terrorism, rather than what they truly are- acts of civil disobedience and a non-violent fight for freedom. And does this mean it's open season on Likud activists? (In the funeral video below, you'll see both Hamas (green) and Fatah (yellow) flags wave, even though Srour has a green headband.)
- " Srour and several other Palestinian activists had approached a Border Policeman, who felt his life was in danger and opened fire in the direction of their legs. Two of the other protesters were wounded, and Srour was killed." - So how did two of them get it in the chest, another in the side and the other in the shoulder? (Not that it excuses the one who got shot in the leg.)
After this barrage of nonsense, comes a subtle piece of truth (neglecting to mention the illegality of the matter):
"Na'alin is the scene of weekly protests against the continuing construction of an Israeli barrier that has cut through the village."
As always, a little truth, must always be overshadowed with propaganda:
"Israel says the barrier it has built along its boundary with the West Bank is needed to keep bombers from infiltrating its towns."
And a little more balanced reporting beginning with the word "Palestinians", thus it must be a lie:
"Palestinians denounce the network of fencing and concrete walls which cut deeply into the West Bank in spots such as Na'alin, as a land grab that denies them territory they want for a future state."
And more context turned into mush:
"Two months ago, Ibrahim abu-Rakhma was killed during a separation fence rally in Bil'in after suffering a tear-gas grenade hit to his chest, which witnesses said was launched some 30 meters away by security forces.
The Israel Defense Force issued a response following the incident, stating that 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.
Another incident occurred four months ago, in which American citizen Tristan Anderson, in his thirties, sustained critical wounds during an anti-separation fence protest in Na'alin.
Peace activists with the International Solidarity Movement of the Oakland, Calif. area, said Anderson was struck in the head with a tear gas canister fired by Israeli troops."
Another installment of Israeli media callousness and criminality, in the shadow of a murder. As I write, I wonder how it is that no one is ever convicted, for what is so obviously crimes. Even though more "global" things are happening in Israel, I decided to write about the loss of a life and the spitting on it's grave. I didn't know Yousef "Akil" Srour, but I know men like him. The protests have, of course, become close to my heart and so have the people with whom I walk beside, each week. Rest in peace, Akil.