18 June 2008

“Inverted commas” revisited: background

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 2:45 pm by lilithhope

Below are excerpts from an article published on the Guardian’s Comment is Free website about the recent attacks on Palestinian sheperds by Israeli settlers that were captured on camera, which i wrote about last week here. Although i do not entirely agree with the credit that the author gives to the BBC is its coverage of the article (while he commends the fact that they gave it such predominant coverage, I had alot of problems with the way in which it was covered), his piece gives valuable historical background and broader context to the story:

“The attack represents a microcosm of Palestinian dispossession in the West Bank. Indeed the village is a story of dispossession and violence in itself. The people of Susia used to live in a number of ancient cave dwellings, one of the oldest and most unique habitats in the region. In 1986 they were evicted by the Israeli army to make way for a Jewish settlement. They managed to hold on to some of the cave dwellings in the outskirts of the town but that was only a temporary reprieve. “In 1997 I went to register our land [with the Israeli authorities],” recalls the farmer Muhammed Nawaja, “but they refused saying we were not allowed. They did not give any reason.” In 2001 Israeli authorities ordered the demolition of these remaining dwellings.

Such acts are not out of the ordinary. According to a United Nations report last year, Israel denies permission to 94% of Palestinian structures in areas of the West Bank under its full control like Susia. Israel has full control of around 64% of the West Bank. Dwellings not authorised by Israel are liable to be demolished at any time.

As I saw with my own eyes three weeks ago, Susia is now a collection of tents and partially-built structures surrounded on three sides by Israeli settlements and a military outpost. Where once there were 800 families living in Susia, today there are only 26 left. From time to time even these humble dwellings are at risk. At one point in the summer of 2001 the villagers were forced to live under trees for four months after their tents were destroyed. They were eventually replaced by the Red Cross although there is lingering uncertainty as to their continued presence. Settlers frequently set fire to crops and the tents, particularly on Friday and Saturday after Sabbath prayers.

So far, the Israeli authorities have appeared unwilling to investigate settler violence. There are now reports from Israel that two youths have been arrested in relation to the attack documented in the video. If they are prosecuted it will be the first of its kind in the Susia region. Villagers in Susia say that settlers shot dead two elderly farmers after their eviction in 1986 and routinely harass others. According to B’Tselem, no one from the settlements has ever been convicted for those murders or attacks.”

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13 June 2008

Inverted commas and delegitimized discourses

Posted in Comment tagged , , , at 2:18 pm by lilithhope

In its piece today covering an incident in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the BBC used inverted commas in its headline, stating:

‘Jewish settler attack’ on film

What are the purpose of such punctuation? Obviously, to instill doubt in the reader about the truthfullness of the story. As if the footage of an elderly couple being beaten to the ground and images of their bloody bodies wasn’t proof enough. As if the human rights organization B’tselem, whose purpose in distributing video cameras was to capture such acts of violence, was blowing things out of proportion or, quite simply, lying.

Also telling is the fact that the BBC displays no skepticism when speaking of the so-called ‘militants’ that are often claimed to be the victims of Israeli raids and strikes. It does not overtly question the ‘facts’ that it receives from the IDF regarding its operations and their consequences, such as civilian deaths. That must be because the IDF is a much more legitimate organization than a bunch of squealing human rights activists or some poor illiterate shepherds. Or because of that innate characteristic of Palestinians, and Arabs more generally, to exaggerate, or twist the facts, or just lie.

Or, more simply, because any testimony against the Israeli’s is, in many ways, by default, pro-Palestinian. And who could possible bear such an accusation! Obviously not the beacon of British journalism.

Media bias is something that really riles me up. But the portrayal of this story is worse than anything i’ve seen before. They have footage of the attack, and photos of the aftermath, which makes the desire for such lowly denial of the incident really disturbing. It betrays a desire to remain blind to injustices and mute in condemning them, which are the very reasons why they are allowed to continue.