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Hebrew Translation: Man Bites Dog

Hebrew Translation: Man Bites Dog

Middle East News Service

[Middle East News Service comment: Generally speaking I prefer not to forward Gideon Levy’s articles. As someone whose name has virtually become a generic term for a pro-Palestinian observer, he is regarded as being one of the “usual suspects”. Quite apart from that, it is not the purpose of this News Service to run an anti-Israeli agenda. I happen to subscribe to the view that one can be both pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli. Thus the selection of items on each day is not based on which one shows the worst aspect of Israel. (That incidentally would be a much easier task.) My aim is to provide alternative information that should actually enhance readers’ knowledge and understanding of the conflict.

Nevertheless there are occasions when one needs to call a spade a spade. I have often sung the praises of the Israeli media, which, as Tariq Ali among others have pointed out, does a better job than the media in the US, Australia and (mostly) Britain. It is only fair that its not-so-savoury side also gets coverage.

Following is the TV review column from today’s Haaretz. Regardless of the varying contributors, this column does not get translated into English. (Most readers of the English Haaretz are abroad and at any rate cannot understand Israeli TV.) But it does tell you what Israelis get to watch. It is relevant to us, not only in understanding the limitations of the Israeli mainstream media, but also in terms of our own TV offering similar fare. As such I am providing my own Translation. – Sol Salbe]

Hebrew original:

Man bites dog

Coverage Of The Gaza Riots, All Channels
By Gideon Levy

It’s the stuff of the beginning of journalism 101: dog bites man – that’s not a story. Man bites dog – now that’s a story. In the Israeli version - as applies to Gaza - man bites dog is Palestinians killing Palestinians. That’s a change from the usual fare of Israelis killing Palestinians. Thus Gaza has become the focus of our media interest.

All of a sudden, an account of a dozen dead Gazans is a lead item in the news bulletins. Horrific, bloody pictures become a sought-after journalistic commodity. Never before have a dozen dead Palestinians received such coverage. It has been a long time since we got to see the dead and wounded being taken out of Palestinian ambulances on our TV screens. Now the newsreaders are talking about “death squads” and “liquidation units”, but thank heaven, not ours. They belong to the Fatah and they threaten to liquidate Hamas leaders.

The fact that Israel has been liquidating Hamas and Islamic Jihad activists on an almost daily basis has almost been forgotten. We even had a report of a school that was closed owing to all the riots. And when did you hear of the schools that Israel bombed?

More than 300 Palestinians have been killed by the IDF in the Gaza Strip since Gilad Shalit was grabbed. There has scarcely been any coverage of this on TV. For months the IDF has run riot in Gaza: assassinating, shelling and bombing. Those sights and sounds have hardly made to our screens. The majority of Gaza residents have not had electricity since Israel bombed the sole power station in the Strip, but that is not regarded as a news story. Neither has anybody covered the children who were killed or injured through no fault of their own, not even the ones who remain paralysed or those who require assistance in breathing. The horrendous economic misery is not worthy of coverage either. Nobody deems it newsworthy to show the piles of overflowing garbage caused by the strikes of those employees who have not received their wages owing to a boycott imposed by Israel and others. Gaza has never interested us, even though the killing and destruction has been carried out the Israeli Defence Force in the name of those watching the screens.

Yesterday the media curfew was lifted. All of a sudden, it turns out that Gaza has a voice, and it even speaks reasonably good Hebrew. We were flooded with reports from Palestinian journalists and politicians. Every news and current affairs program managed to find its own pet Muhammad who described what was happening. Why were they not interviewed earlier, when it was Israel that was killing Gazans? If I were a Palestinian journalist I would have slammed the phone down on them: where were you earlier? Even [Channel 10 news-breaking journalist –translator] Shlomi Eldar was taken out of mothballs and returned to report from Gaza, after an extended period of imposed silence.

The media’s message behind this disgraceful behaviour was transparent: look at these fratricidal animals, how they are killing each other! Look at this nation, on the brink of a civil war (or maybe already in its throes). Now think, can we make peace with these people? The conclusion - as usual, we have no partner. But even in yesterday’s information overload the real questions were not asked: what caused the bloody riots and what role did Israel play in them? A million and a half people are locked up in a giant prison, most of them without income, on the edge of starvation. Helpless against cruel Israeli aggression from the sea, air and land, their government is powerless, mainly due to a boycott imposed after it was elected in democratic elections.

Yesterday’s reports were tainted by a scandalous pretence of innocence. Ministers [Amir] Peretz and [Binyamin] Ben-Eliezer and a whole choir of commentators emphasised that this was an internal Palestinian affair. Really? No one sought to question Israel’s responsibility in this “internal” Palestinian affair. What did we think would happen in caged and bleeding Gaza? Israel has conducted an experiment on humans without bothering to get a permit from the Health Department body in charge of experiments on humans. Israel has locked hundreds of thousands of people in a cage, starved them and bombed them. And now, let’s see what will happen next. This reality program was as successful as expected. The most predictable outcome did take place: the prisoners started killing each other. Except that on television they did not tell us about the experiment; they showed only the results.


[The independent Middle East News Service concentrates on providing alternative information chiefly from Israeli sources. It is sponsored by the Australian Jewish Democratic Society. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the AJDS. These are expressed in its own statements]

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