It is an overdue welcome that the Wessex Scene should take time to focus on Israel/Palestine. The series was published during a significant week as it marks the 63rd year since the Nakba began; a week that ended in death and injury for numerous as Israel once again crushed protests that demanded human rights for Palestinians (dictatorship or democracy Israel knows how to crush peaceful dissent). The articles had an understandably introductory outlook on massive issues with a focus on establishment politics. This inevitably missed some exemplary issues that surround alternative experiences caught up in the conflict; it is the media status quo so not a drastic setback but perhaps ground for future writing and discussion. A subject that was clearly present between the lines but generally not discussed was the issue of bias.
The issue of media bias when reporting on Israel/Palestine is an ongoing saga with no end in sight. It has led me away from the corporate media, a good thing in retrospect, and to question ill-informed reports. This media bias was highlighted best when just a few weeks ago the word ‘Palestine’ was deliberately airbrushed from a song played on the BBC. It is hard to question such big institutions about bias, so to invite responses to this series on Israel/Palestine is not simply the ‘safe’ thing for the Wessex Scene to do, it should be the industry standard. Too often we are given one establishment-journalist’s perspective on the situation as if this is enough, as if they are immune to external and internal influences.
The focus on bias is just about always to suggest someone is “pro-Israel” or “pro-Palestine” despite an industry standard that frequently, in my opinion rightly, attempts to place victim concerns at the centre of conflicts. It is apparent that this consideration of appearing to favour Israel or Palestine plays on the minds of most journalists, and there seemed to be no exception for those writing in the Wessex Scene. What should be clear from the decades of reporting is that no matter how ‘safe’ writers try to be they will come in for criticism from one or multiple parties. Is it not better to maintain the industry standard in an attempt to remain with the victims, whether they are Israeli or Palestinian, settler or Hamas official?
The thing with this conflict is that it is getting increasingly hard for even the most stubborn to ignore the evidence; Palestinians are overwhelmingly the greatest victims both quantitatively and qualitatively. You are more likely to be arrested and held, killed or injured, dispossessed and unemployed if you are Palestinian. If you are Israeli you have more chance of having your grievances addressed and of receiving adequate and timely care and compensation. At an everyday level Palestinians are made to function on a system of apartheid and occupation; legalized systems that work against them. Mundanely this means accepting travel restrictions and being treating as cattle, at more extreme moments this means giving birth at checkpoints or trying to avoid bombs. With this in mind shouldn’t we expect reporting to reveal this? Surely fair reporting does not equate to providing equal space and time to both aggressors and victims as the BBC imply. With so much reporting surely the media should be a ground for everyday Israelis and Palestinians and not politicians that perpetuate this misery.
Zionists systematically disempower Palestinians at all levels, everywhere. Zionists are in control financially, politically and militarily; in reality they set the agenda. Palestinian authorities and families are forced to try and function apart; this is not a sound basis for stability for anyone and certainly doesn’t result in peace for Palestinians. This dominance is protected by the USA. As Arafat’s Oslo giveaway and the Palestinian Papers indicate the Palestinian politicians are prepared to forget the rights of their people to end the occupation. While Israel refuses the offers such blatant disregard by Palestinian politicians seems at times to bring a Palestinian civil war closer. Reports that in no way reflect these realities are substandard; the best reporting on conflicts challenge the status quo, not maintain it.
To highlight what I mean here are some issues I would have included in any introductory analysis of Israel/Palestine; the attack on the King David Hotel by Zionists; the attack on the USS Liberty by Israel; explanation of financial and political backing for Israel; and the Zionist preparations before 1948 for massacre and expulsion. A discussion of social welfare programs initiated by the PLO and Hamas would also have helped explain how these organizations built popular support, and revealed little is spend on arms (despite popular perception). These concerns may have helped avoid the media status quo and immediately taken us to a fresh level of dialogue. Away from high-end politricks there are meaningful dialogue and peace initiatives run by joint Israeli-Palestinian organizations. Within Israel these include Anarchists Against the Wall and Sikkuy that challenge different aspects of injustice. Amongst the Jewish diaspora around the world there are a few organizations, including Jews Against Zionism, that refuse to recognize the state of Israel. Organisations made up of multiple nationalities and people of various faiths include Ecumenical Accompaniment Program and the International Solidarity Movement that do awareness and unarmed peace work across Israel/Palestine.
Hopefully this week of writings will provide a greater space for people to write more freely in the future, to take a stance and not sit on the fence (illegal separation barrier). Attempting to play it safe will maintain the current walls to justice and more than likely play into the hands of the unaccountable. Well done to the writers and lets hope for more in the future.