some notes on censorship

nidal el khairy
nidal el khairy

it is kind of astounding what an impact an najah university has on the city of nablus. the city itself is one of the largest in palestine and yet when the students are not here so many shops and restaurants close down because there is no business. one of the board of trustees at the university died so the university was closed today and so did all the shops. one of the members of an najah university’s board of trustees died, a prominent nabulsi from the masri family, so the university shut down. and so did all the shops. it was strange being on campus and around campus today. it reminded me of when we had a strike last semester; it was like this then, too.

i have been busy working on the u.s. boycott campaign and the vigil (see below) that we are having sunday night in nablus and in many other cities around the world. hopefully more will be added soon. i hear rumors that boise, idaho is going to join our list of vigils! one of the associated activities with the vigil, aside from reading the names of the child martyrs is to read out loud some of the stories of the children who survived. here are some of those in english (sorry no translation yet):

Children’s survival stories in Gaza

Amira, 15 years old

Amira Qirm is from Tal El Hawa. She watched her father die outside their home. Right after that, she heard another shell land and kill her brother Ala’a, 14 years old, and her sister Ismat, 16 years old. Amira was injured in the attack, and spent three days semi-conscious and alone in a neighbour’s abandoned house before she was rescued. She has been flown to France for medical treatment and she faces a long recovery. She says her dream is to become a lawyer so she can “stand in court facing the Israelis for what they have done.”

* The Guardian, 23 January 2009

Essidi, 6 years old

6-year-old Essidi Sarzuhr was hit by Israeli bomb fragments when seven Israeli rockets hit the front of his house on Jan 7. The family lives in Sabra, Gaza. He was taken to Al-Shifa hospital’s Special Paediatric Department for treatment for extensive abdominal injuries and had undergone emergency lifesaving laparatomy and had a chest tube placed due to fragment injuries also of the chest.

* Account of Norwegian Doctors Mads Gilbert and Erick Fosse

Hosam, early teens

Hosam Hamdan, a boy in his early teens, still remains unconscious in Gaza City’s al-Shifa hospital intensive care unit in a full body cast, after he was seriously wounded and his two sisters killed in an Israeli air strike in Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza Strip at the end of December 2008. Doctors are not sure if he will ever walk again.

* The Guardian, 31 December 2008

Sari, young child

Sari, a boy, was caught outside during the first bombing. “He trembled as he told us that he’d been on his way home from school in a taxi when there was a thundering blast. The driver stopped the car and ran for cover. The passengers scattered in all directions. Sari found himself running aimlessly. The explosions seemed to be chasing him, he said. Suddenly, he came upon people lying bleeding in the street” but it was too late to help them.

*Eyad el Sarraj, The Washington Post, January 3, 2009

Ayman, 15 years old

Ayman Najjar is trying to recover from severe burns in a hospital in Khan Younis, and his back is covered in thick dressings. His doctor says he is suffering from severe chemical burns. Ayman is from Khoza’a, a rural community east of Khan Younis. He and his sister were sitting under the stairs when a missile struck. Their grandfather, who was in the garden, was killed instantly. His sister Alaa, 16 years old, had been playing a game on her mobile phone when she was hit and died after hours of surgery.

* www.Rafahkid.net

Hagag Family

Sitting in his empty apartment, Anas doesn’t know if he will see his wife, Mounira, and two daughters and son ever again. “It feels as though as a piece of my heart has been torn out,” he said. Mounira, a Bosnian national, had survived 4 years of war in Bosnia, and had thought she could endure life in Gaza as well. But, Anas said, “three weeks of Israeli warfare in Gaza broke her – mentally” and she left to Cairo on the first bus out after the ceasefire. “I miss her terribly,” he says, “but I don’t blame her.”

* Al-Jazeera English

Al-Daya family

Fayez and Khitam Al Daya had brought together their children and their families into their home in the neighborhood of Zeitoun, Gaza City. On January 6, at 6am, an Israeli Apache plane bombed and destroyed the 4-storey home. All 30 members of the family were killed and buried under the rubble. 18 of those killed were children.

* Al Haq

Ibrahim Shurrab, 17 years old

On 16 January, 2009, at around 1.30 in the afternoon during the three-hour Israeli-declared lull in fighting, Ibrahim, his brother Kassab, 27 years old, and their father Mohammed, 64 years old, were in their car on their home from their farm. Kassab was shot by an Israeli solider4 in the chest, and died a few hours later. Mohammed was shot in the arm, and Ibrahim’s leg was wounded. Ibrahim and his father were stranded and the ambulances were unable to reach them. Mohammed spent hours trying to call the Red Cross and human rights organizations, but they were unable to help, and Ibrahim died at dawn the next morning.

* Al Haq

“Out of all the devastation I have seen so far, there is one story in particular that I think the world needs to hear. I met a mother who was at home with her ten children when Israeli soldiers entered the house. The soldiers told her she had to choose five of her children to “give as a gift to Israel.” As she screamed in horror they repeated the demand and told her she could choose or they would choose for her. Then these soldiers murdered five of her children in front of her.”

* Account of Barbara Lubin in Gaza City

these accounts are important to share not only at vigils, but in general. we need to be reminded of the survivors too, some of whom will never recover fully, will never be the same psychologically. and yet the bbc continues to censor the public service announcement from the disaster emergency committee, which is trying to raise money for gaza in the u.k. the image above by nidal el khairy is a brilliant piece responding to the way in which bbc is complicit in–and even participating in–the deaths of palestinians in gaza. muhammad idress ahmad has a really smart analysis of the bbc censorship on electronic intifada:

If there were no occupier and occupied in the conflict; no oppressor and oppressed, no state and stateless; then clearly assisting victims on one side would compromise “impartiality.” This view posits the Palestinian population as a whole as an adversary to the Israeli war machine. The BBC’s decision not to acknowledge the victims of the conflict is a function of its biased coverage. When it spent three weeks providing a completely distorted image of the slaughter carried out by one of the world’s mightiest militaries against a defenseless civilian population, it is unsurprising that it should fear viewers questioning how such a “balanced” conflict could produce so many victims. And if the Israelis are able to look after their own, why should the Palestinians need British assistance?

When there is no mention of the violent dispossession of the Palestinians, or of the occupation; no mention of the crippling siege, or of the daily torments of the oppressed, viewers would naturally find it hard to comprehend the reality. For if these truths were to be revealed, the policy of the British government would appear even less reasonable. As a state chartered body, however, the BBC is no more likely to antagonize the government as a politician in the government is to antagonize the Israel lobby. Indeed, the BBC’s director general Mark Thompson can hardly be described as a disinterested party: in 2005 he made a trip to Jerusalem where he met with Ariel Sharon in what was seen in Israel as an attempt to “build bridges” and “a ‘softening’ to the corporation’s unofficial editorial line on the Middle East.” Thompson, “a deeply religious man,” is “a Catholic, but his wife is Jewish, and he has a far greater regard for the Israeli cause than some of his predecessors” sources at the corporation told The Independent. Shortly afterwards Orla Guerin, an exceptionally courageous and honest journalist responsible for most of the corporation’s rare probing and hard-hitting reports, was sacked as the BBC’s Middle East correspondent and transferred to Africa in response to complaints from the Israeli government.

But this decision to refuse a charity appeal has consequences that go far beyond any of the BBC’s earlier failings: as the respected British MP Tony Benn put it, “people will die because of the BBC decision.” It is so blatantly unjust that the only question the BBC management might want to mull over is just how irreparable the damage from this controversy might be to its reputation. The organization that only days earlier was reporting with glee a letter by Chinese intellectuals boycotting their state media is today itself the subject of boycotts across Britain, not just by intellectuals, but by artists, scholars, citizens and even the International Atomic Energy Agency. Much like Pravda and Izvestia during the Cold War, today it is the BBC that has emerged as the most apposite metaphor for state propaganda.

and there is censorship in the u.s. as well. the u.s. campaign to end the occupation created a public service announcement for direct tv and they refused to air it.

Take Action: DIRECTV Censors Our Gaza Strip TV Ad

Thanks to a generous emergency grant from Cultures of Resistance, we produced a 30-second commercial about the U.S. role in Israel’s war on and siege of the Gaza Strip.

We thought, “What better way to bring this important information to the attention of people in the United States than to advertise nationally on DIRECTV?” the largest satellite television subscription service in the country.

After detailed discussions with DIRECTV, including agreement on rates, times, and network placements of the ad, when we gave them the final product, they abruptly decided not to do business with us.

This blatant act of censorship is preventing millions of U.S. households from learning the truth about our government’s crucial role in enabling Israel’s war on and siege of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

TAKE ACTION

1. Watch both an extended internet version and the original 30-second commercial below.

2. Contact DIRECTV to protest its act of censorship and demand that they accept our ad by clicking here.

3. Let all your friends know about this commercial and DIRECTV’s censorship of it by joining our Facebook group.

4. Make a tax-deductible contribution to the US Campaign so that we can purchase as much air time for this commercial as possible by clicking below on the icon.

5. Take action requested in the commercial and sign our open letter to President Obama calling upon him to cut of military aid to Israel by clicking here.

censorship is also prevalent in 1948 palestine as with palestinians wanting to commemorate the anniversary of george habash’s death:

About 30 demonstrators from the Israeli-Arab Abnaa elBalad Movement (Sons of the Land) rallied in Haifa yesterday in protest of a police decision to ban an open-air memorial service for George Habash, the founder of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The PFLP is considered a terrorist organization in Israel.

Mohammed Kanana, secretary general of the movement which organized the rally, told Haaretz he had not been surprised by the police decision.

“The Israel Police is famous for its oppression of the Arab public and for its opposition to lawful democratic activity,” he said. The event was supposed to be held in a Haifa theater yesterday, marking the first anniversary of Habash’s death. Among the invited speakers were Arab public figures, clergymen, and Habash’s relatives living in Israel.

carlos latuff
carlos latuff

and egypt is now collaborating with israeli terrorists in censoring the media by preventing them from broadcasting in gaza:

Egypt on Tuesday prevented two senior Al Jazeera journalists from entering the Gaza Strip through Rafah border, the London-based Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi reported on Wednesday.

The two, Ahmad Mansour and Ghassan Bin Jido, said that the Egyptian authorities did not provide an explanation for their decision, and that employees of other media outlets were allowed to cross into the besieged territory without delay.

During Operation Cast Lead last month, the network’s coverage of the events in Gaza was critical of Egypt’s opposition to Hamas. Mansour and Bin Jido are known for their favorable attitude toward the Palestinian “resistance movement,” as Hamas is known in the Arab world. They said they’d stay put until Egypt provides a “reasonable” explanation for their detention at the border.

and egypt is collaborating with israeli terrorists by destroying tunnels and creating a system of surveillance to prevent palestinians fro accessing basic needs through the tunnels along the rafah border:

The Egyptian government destroyed more tunnels along its borders with the tiny Gaza Strip that were used by Gazans to bring food and basic needs into their besieged Strip, Palestinian sources and eyewitnesses confirmed.

The Israeli occupation government destroyed nearly one-half of the tunnels along the Gaza-Egypt border during its brutal war on Gaza last month, the sources added.

The Egyptian government also halted fuel supply to Gaza Strip, which aggravated the suffering of the Palestinian people there, especially that no fuel is being supplied to Gaza from the Israeli side.

Sensor cameras were also installed by the Egyptian security forces on top of high building to monitor the borders with help from American, German, and French experts with the aim to uncover and destroy all the tunnels.

matthew cassel
matthew cassel

matthew’s amazing photograph above of one of the tunnel workers is about these men as an essential part of resistance.

there are other forms of censorship like when the u.s. congress tries to call the united nations relief and works agency a terrorist organization (click link below to protest this outrageous resolution):

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) urges you to act quickly to oppose House Congressional Resolution 29 (H. Con. Res 29) which questions support for the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) and alleges its support for terror organizations. H. Con. Res. 29 has been referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. While the people of the Gaza Strip are suffering after years of occupation, blockade and weeks of war UNRWA deserves only steadfast American support and aid to alleviate the suffering in Gaza. The attempts to make UNRWA’s job harder and limit funding for the organization sends the message that the United States is actively seeking the continued deprivation of the Palestinian people.

Take action below by sending a prepared message to your representative. Eight representatives have co-sponsored this resolution and if your representative is one of them then you will be able to send them a message expressing your disagreement with the resolution. If they have not co-sponsored the resolution you will be able to send them a letter encouraging them not to support the resolution.

meanwhile barack obama–that president of hope and change for you koolaid drinkers out there–is censoring evidence of torture:

Two senior British judges have expressed their anger and surprise that President Barack Obama’s Government has put pressure on Britain to suppress evidence of torture in US custody.

Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Lloyd Jones said they had been told that America had threatened to stop co-operating with Britain on intelligence matters if evidence were published suggesting that Binyam Mohammed, a British resident held at the US prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, had been tortured into confessing crimes.

and one news item that i bet won’t be getting a lot of air time in the u.s. is the one about obama’s home state of illinois investing in the terrorist state of israel:

The state of Illinois has just purchased $10 million in Israel bonds.

http://jta.org/news/article/2009/01/28/1002600/illinois-makes-big-israel-bon
ds-purchase

If you would like to point out to Illinois officials that, considering that Israel has just massacred over 1,300 Palestinians including over 400 children, and that Illinois should be considering divestment and boycott rather than investment, here’s some contact information.

Thanks,

-Rich

Contact Illinois Governor Pat Quinn
217-782-0244
Or 312-814-2121

http://www.standingupforillinois.org/contact/

Contact Illinois Senator Dick Durban
202-224-2152

http://durbin.senate.gov/contact.cfm

Contact Illinois Senator Roland W. Burris
202-224-2854
(no on-line contact for Burris found)

Illinois residents find your representatives in congress by district here:

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/findyourreps.xpd?state=IL

Please forward widely, especially to Illinois residents

as if you needed any, jonathan cook has some great reasons why you should not only contact the legislators above and tell them to stop investing in the terrorist israeli state but also to DIVEST from it altogether:

Extremist rabbis and their followers, bent on waging holy war against the Palestinians, are taking over the Israeli army by stealth, according to critics.

In a process one military historian has termed the rapid “theologization” of the Israeli army, there are now entire units of religious combat soldiers, many of them based in West Bank settlements. They answer to hardline rabbis who call for the establishment of a Greater Israel that includes the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Their influence in shaping the army’s goals and methods is starting to be felt, say observers, as more and more graduates from officer courses are also drawn from Israel’s religious extremist population.

“We have reached the point where a critical mass of religious soldiers is trying to negotiate with the army about how and for what purpose military force is employed on the battlefield,” said Yigal Levy, a political sociologist at the Open University who has written several books on the Israeli army.

The new atmosphere was evident in the “excessive force” used in the recent Gaza operation, Dr Levy said. More than 1,300 Palestinians were killed, a majority of them civilians, and thousands were injured as whole neighborhoods of Gaza were leveled.

“When soldiers, including secular ones, are imbued with theological ideas, it makes them less sensitive to human rights or the suffering of the other side.”

or how about this…benjamin netanyahu, a frontrunner in the upcoming israeli terrorist election, and leader of its likud party, represents a party that, like most israeli terrorists in general, thrive on total hypocrisy. as they are always already making claims about refusing to negotiate with hamas because of its charter or what borders it agrees to (always articulated with fabrications, mind you) here is what likud’s charter says in an article by frank barat in the palestine chronicle:

Everyone (politicians and corporate media leaders) accepted this without asking a few important questions. Which Israel should Hamas recognize? Israel has not yet stated what its international borders are. Should Hamas recognize the Israel of 1948? The Israel of 1967? The Israel of 2009 with its apartheid wall, settlements (settlements building raised by 60 percent in 2008, the year of the Annapolis “Peace Process”, according to a Peace Now report), second class Arab citizens and with East Jerusalem annexed?

Any astute observer could also have objected by reminding people that Hamas (through Haniyeh and Meshal) had said many times over that it was willing to accept Israel as a political entity on the 1967 borders. You do not have to look hard for this, it was stated in the Guardian, Washington Post, amongst others, meaning that Hamas was now in line with most of the international community, accepting a two-state solution.

Another issue came back again and again. The problem is Hamas’s Charter, we would hear. Whatever Meshal or Haniyeh were ready to accept, the Charter came back to haunt them every time.

But what about the Charter of the Likud Party. With Netanyahu and his right-wing party ready to take over, it is only fair to find out a bit more about them.

In the “Peace and Security” chapter of the Likud Party platform, a recent document (1999) it says initially that:

“Peace is a primary objective of the State of Israel. The Likud will strengthen the existing peace agreements with the Arab states and strive to achieve peace agreements with all of Israel’s neighbors with the aim of reaching a comprehensive solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.”

But then it says about settlements:

“The Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza are the realization of Zionist values. Settlement of the land is a clear expression of the unassailable right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel and constitutes an important asset in the defense of the vital interests of the State of Israel. The Likud will continue to strengthen and develop these communities and will prevent their uprooting.”

Therefore annihilating the slightest chance of a two-state solution.

On Palestinian self-rule it says:

“The Government of Israel flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river. The Palestinians can run their lives freely in the framework of self-rule, but not as an independent and sovereign state. Thus, for example, in matters of foreign affairs, security, immigration and ecology, their activity shall be limited in accordance with imperatives of Israel’s existence, security and national needs.”

Therefore annihilating any chance of seeing a Palestinian sovereign state.

On Jerusalem:

“Jerusalem is the eternal, united capital of the State of Israel and only of Israel. The government will flatly reject Palestinian proposals to divide Jerusalem, including the plan to divide the city presented to the Knesset by the Arab factions and supported by many members of Labor and Meretz.”

Therefore annihilating any chance for future peace negotiations because east Jerusalem as capital of a future Palestinian state is non-negotiable for any Palestinian.

We have therefore established that the Likud party charter does not recognize Palestine and will not accept a sovereign Palestinian state. The soon-to-come non-recognition of Likud by the international community and an implemented blockade on Israel should therefore not come as a surprise for Israelis.

and as we speak the lebanese boat that was on its way to gaza has now been attacked by israeli terrorists at sea. my only hope is that lebanon–specifically hezbollah–sees this as an act of war and responds accordingly:

An Israeli gunboat late Wednesday intercepted a Lebanese ship carrying medical aid and other supplies bound for Gaza, said the organizer of the Lebanese delivery, Maan Bashour.

“The Brotherhood Ship was fired on by an Israeli military boat 32 kilometers off the coast of Gaza and they were asked to divert course,” said Bashour, and added that the ship remains in the water near the coast of Gaza.

i’m taking a couple of days off from blogging. for those who are looking to read, i strongly encourage you to check out the new issue of majdal, which i helped to edit. it’s got some terrific articles about israeli terrorists’ ongoing ethnic cleansing projects from the river to the sea. and, of course, there are many, many links in the sidebar for you to keep updated with.

One thought on “some notes on censorship

  1. I always read, and never comment, my apologies (I am like all the others after all).

    Regarding the BBC — in the end I think the reason why they thought they could get away with the outrageous proposition that aiding impoverished, war struck civilians would jeopardize their impartiality, is because the victims are Arabs. This insidious substratum of hatred seems to hold all such stories together.

    The other possibility is this idea that “Hamas might get the aid.” I think some people are forgetting that Hamas was elected, and that the BBC’s comments about the dangers of Hamas getting some of the aid…ruin its veneer of impartiality! No more impartial than they are when speaking about Zimbabwe, using a reporter in some third country, and making definitive assertions.

    The BBC is finished.

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