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Mideast Youth: Silencing mainstream media on Palestine

The very un-noble silence of the mainstream American/Western media on Palestine
by Ray Hanania, 29 April 2007

Imagine if Elie Wiesel, the Auschwitz survivor and author of 36 works dealing with Judaism, the Holocaust, and the moral responsibility of all people to fight hatred, racism and genocide, had been attacked and shot by Palestinians.

Imagine if Wiesel, a 1985/86 Nobel Peace Prize winner, had been attacked and hit with a rock. A stone. Maybe a makeshift gun that fired ball bearings as thick as large marbles and covered in a thin layer of black plastic.

It would never happen, but I ask you to imagine it anyway.

Because in a way, this ugly imaginary thought did happen. An attack did take place, but in a different way. Not against Wiesel, but against another Nobel Peace Prize winner.

It happened in the typical manner of hypocrisy and backward morality that sometimes exists in Israel. It went unacknowledged in the complicity and silence of the mainstream Western news media.

On Friday April 20, Wiesel’s distinguished colleague, 1976/77 Nobel Peace Prize winner and activist Mairead Corrigan Maguire, was attacked and injured. She was shot by Israeli soldiers, struck with a steel ball bearing coated in rubber while participating in a non-violent peace protest at the Palestinian village of Bilin, which has been choked by the immoral Wall that Wiesel and other Jews misleadingly call a “fence.”

Wiesel has been silent on the Wall, and on the injustices committed by Israel’s government against the Palestinians.

The Wall has been used by Israel not only to create a security barrier separating Palestinians from Israeli citizens, but to also confiscate millions of acres of farmland from Palestinians.

That’s what Corrigan and a group of Palestinians including foreign diplomats were demonstrating against at Bilin, a small Palestinian village being choked to death by the Wall, when Israeli soldiers attacked the unarmed group firing “rubber bullets” and dozens of tear gas canisters.

Corrigan later said the soldiers acted without provocation. They just fired. As she was helping someone who had been hit, an Israeli soldier standing only a dozen feet or more away, aimed his weapon and fired at her, striking her in her leg. She was treated at a hospital for her injury and for severe burns caused by the excessive tear gas.

The story was picked up and “filtered” by the Israeli media. I say “filtered” because the Israeli news media plays the political writing game, too. They described the protestors in the most derogatory way: “left wing” activists.

They refuse to call the 26-foot tall, one-foot thick concrete mass a “Wall.” Instead, they refer to it by the kinder, gentler and politically acceptable term, “security fence.”

The Israeli media never reports that their soldiers fired against peace protestors without provocation. They always imply that Palestinians provoked the soldiers by “throwing stones.” Corrigan, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, I remind you, denies that claim.

I can’t blame the Israeli media for being political cheerleaders in the conflict with the Palestinians as much as I do blame the so-called objective, uninvolved mainstream American and Western news media. The American and Western news media is even more complicit not only in the silence but in covering up the brutality by Israeli soldiers against Palestinian civilians.

Type in Corrigan’s first name and “Nobel” into any online News site and you can see how complicit the Western and American news media really is in these criminal assaults against civilians protesting against oppression and championing civil rights.

More than 4,500 newspapers and online news sources are indexed, yet only 10 citations appeared in the nine-days since the incident. Most were web sites.

Not one major American or Western news outlet published the news report about the attack on Mairead Corrigan Maguire on Friday April 20.

Hours earlier, another peace activist, Alberto de Jesus, was arrested by Israeli soldiers when he scaled one of the 75 foot high prison-like gun turrets along the Wall near Bilin where he then unfurled a Palestinian flag.

It was a peaceful stunt. Also known as Toto Kayak, de Jesus is celebrated for having scaled the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor in 2000 to unfurl a Puerto Rican flag championing Puerto Rican independence.

Some news outlets reported that de Jesus sat in an Israeli jail for two days, placed under house arrest and then deported.

But none wrote about Mairead who, from her hospital bed, declared, “This is terrible what’s happening here to the Palestinians. They’re suffering so much — and they can’t even have a voice to nonviolently protest against what’s happening to them. It’s a disgrace, it’s a disgrace what’s happening to the Palestinians.”

No, the bigger disgrace is the silence of the so-called people of conscience like Wiesel, who seems the hypocrite when injustice, brutality and racism involve Palestinians.

The bigger injustice is the silence of the media lambs. Journalists, editors and so-called powerful news media organizations that shudder in fear of being criticized by Israel’s powerful lobby for daring to report on stories sympathetic to Palestinians that cast Israel in a negative light. Reporters whose reputations are slaughtered when they dare to report the truth when the truth is unflattering to Israel.

Wiesel, who claims to champion the moral responsibility of all people to fight hatred, racism and genocide, once poignantly wrote, “to remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all.”

Well, apparently, not “all people.”

On the silence of the biased mainstream American and Western media which fails to report on the immoral behavior by Israel’s occupation soldiers, Wiesel is silent, too.

Chicago-based Palestinian American writer Ray Hanania was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist 2006/07″ by the New America Media and was awarded this week the Lisagor Award for Column writing by the Society of Professional Journalists/Chicago Chapter. He can be reached HERE