Last month, at least eight Muslim Palestinian female journalists were physically beaten with clubs, iron chairs, and fists, stabbed, and tortured with electric shocks by male Hamas security forces in the Gaza strip. Their cell phones, laptops, documents, and cameras were confiscated. They were also arrested. Some were forced to sign a document “pledging to refrain from covering such events again.”
The “events” were a series of pro-unity rallies organized by Palestinian youth on Facebook (!) which demanded an end to the dispute between Islamist Hamas and a presumably more moderate Fatah.
So much for the Arab “spring,” and the purposefully misguided Western (and these heroically naïve youthful demonstrators’) belief that the increasingly well organized Islamist Middle East will really rise up on behalf of human rights and women’s rights—without which there can be no democracy.
But this is not my main point.
The mainstream media did not cover this male-on-female atrocity in Gaza. In the English-speaking world, only a handful of journalists, including two Israelis, one writing in the Jerusalem Post, one writing at Big Peace, covered it. A few smaller newspapers in America and an English-language Egyptian paper did so as well.
To be fair, Reuters had an article which featured their own agency in Gaza having being attacked by “armed men.” Later on, we learn that these “armed men” were Hamas officials. And near the end of the piece, we also learn that Hamas also beat “photographers and camera men.” They do not mention female journalists, nor do they give us their names.
Slate also had an article about how Fatah is undermining Islamism on the West Bank. Parenthetically, later on, they mention that Hamas raided the offices of Reuters and destroyed equipment. They do not mention the attack on the Palestinian women journalists.
It did not happen, it is not important. The mainstream media does not really care about what happens to Arabs, Muslims, or Palestinians—not even when they are fellow or sister journalists, women, and feminists. The media only cares when and if Israelis are allegedly the perpetrators, the murderers, the checkpoint “humiliators.” Even when Israelis kill an armed Iranian-backed Palestinian member of Hamas in self-defense, even when Israelis accidentally, with no malice aforethought, kill a British journalist or an American “activist,” the Israelis are not only blamed—films, plays, and documentaries are made about the “martyred” American Rachel Corrie or the “martyred” British filmmaker James Miller or British “anti-war” activist Tom Hurndall. Countless demonstrations have been held. In Miller’s case the British government insisted on an investigation, and his family brought a civil lawsuit against an Israeli soldier.
The media was all over this even though an investigation strongly suggested that James Miller was killed by Palestinians “from the direction of the populated Rafah.” Although people know that Palestinians routinely hide behind civilian hostages, deliberately target Israeli civilians, especially children, create their own “martyrs” (the Muhammad al-Dura case as well as the Rachel Corrie case immediately come to mind)—nevertheless, the media refuses to hold Palestinians accountable and refuses to believe that the Israelis are innocent. The media knows full well that they will be killed or not allowed to “report” in Palestinian areas if they publish anything negative, anything true. By now, this habit is ingrained.
One of the recently beaten, tortured, and arrested Palestinian female journalists, Asma Al-Ghoul, is someone whom I first interviewed in 2009. Al-Ghoul is a secular feminist and a journalist who has written brave articles about honor killings on the West Bank and in Gaza. She asked me to edit and publish some of her work and I proudly did so. Al-Ghoul has been harassed and arrested by Hamas before. Why? Ostensibly because she dared to laugh, wear jeans on the beach, and entered the sea, fully clothed, to swim. These were her crimes—plus the fact that she was a single woman (divorced, actually), out in public, not wearing hijab, and relaxing on the beach with—unbelievably—male friends.
It took the left-wing Mother Jones about a year and half after my interviews to find Al-Ghoul. Guess what the journalist, Ashley Bates, immediately focuses upon? You guessed it. In her third paragraph she writes: “For three years, Israel has enforced a devastating blockade of the Gaza Strip aimed at isolating Hamas.” One might hope that she would leave well enough alone and focus on Al-Ghoul’s heroism and Hamas’ Islamist persecution of women. But not exactly. She sees Al-Ghoul as a heroine primarily because she has remained a “secularist,” and of all the things they may have talked about, Bates instead writes this:
Asma wrote her way through the trauma of the 2008-2009 war between Israel and Hamas militants, which claimed the lives of 13 Israelis and about 1,400 Gazans. Often, she slept at her office for fear of getting killed on the way to her home, a mere five-minute walk away.
“I felt as if Israeli military planes were blind,” Asma recalled. “They attacked everything and everybody. I saw dead children…As a woman and as a human being, I don’t believe in revenge, because it just brings more blood. But people said to me during the war, ‘You see? This is your peace.’”
While Asma has befriended liberal Jewish activists in Gaza, she has never entered Israel. In 2003 and again in 2006, the Israeli government denied her permission to travel through Israel to the West Bank, which is territorially separate from Gaza, to receive awards for her writing.
Yes, we know that Mother Jones is a left-wing magazine. But, in case we forget it—the reporter is careful to remind us that, despite Hamas’ Islamification, she is pro-Palestinian, not pro-Israeli. When I interviewed Al-Ghoul I was careful not to bring in Israeli-Palestinian politics.
What can one do? How can we be proactive, visual, informative, preemptive?
Earlier this week, Artists4Israel and members of the Birthright Israel Alumni Community just did something amazing in Washington Square Park in New York City’s Greenwich Village. They erected a bomb shelter and decorated it just as they’ve done in Sderot, Israel, a city which has absorbed thousands of Hamas rocket attacks in the last ten years, including many after Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza. The graffiti artists and muralists spoke about Sderot and about Israel and talked about how people have only 15 seconds to find a bomb shelter after the “code red” siren goes off. They talked about how permanently traumatized the Israeli children are. Here is a video of this wonderful demonstration/performance art, and of the wonderful artists.
Sadly, Artists4Israel were unable to sound the siren every fifteen seconds (to simulate what life is actually like in Sderot and in southern Israel) for more than a half hour. Equally sadly, this brave band of artist-warriors were also forced to contend with an almost immediate, pro-forma counter-demonstration which shouted, yelled, insulted, and behaved in every way like the Arab Street at its bullying worst. The counter-demonstrators were not respectful, did not engage in dialogue, and did not listen to anything having to do with the suffering of innocent Israeli civilians at the hands of Hamas.
Perhaps they are all journalists or will become journalists when they graduate from college.
Prof. Phyllis Chesler is the author of fifteen books, including Women and Madness (Doubleday, 1972), The Death of Feminism: What’s Next in the Struggle for Women’s Freedom (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005) and most recently, The New Anti-Semitism. She is the co-founder of the Association for Women in Psychology and the National Women’s Health Network.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu tried to lower expectations about the Iron Dome system Sunday, telling the cabinet that the system could not protect every house, school and army base in the country.March 28, 2011
|Iron Dome defends against rockets
at a range of 4- 70 kilometers:
Barack says:Barak says Iron Dome anti-rocket system to be deployed within days.
Late Friday night a Kassam rocket exploded in Eshkol Regional Council area, causing damage to one house but no injuries. A local official said authorities were searching for a second rocket that had fallen in an open area.
On Thursday, a rocket fired from Gaza exploded north of Ashdod. While there were no injuries, Magen David Adom crew treated a number of people for shock.
Earlier Friday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak confirmed that he authorized the deployment of the Iron Dome missile defense system.
during a tour of the Gaza region, Barak said: “I authorized the IDF in
the coming days to authorize the first operational deployment of Iron
Dome batteries, here in the southern region.”
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..The test deployment, he said, “will continue for several weeks and the layout will vary with operational needs.”
The defense minister praised Iron Dome’s technology, calling it an “extraordinary development” by the defense industry. He cautioned, however, that it does not provide a 100 percent solution to the rocket threat.
The Iron Dome system will be part of the IDF’s solution to the barrage of rockets fired into southern Israel from Gaza in the last week, a statement from the IDF spokesperson said.
Iron Dome is designed to defend against rockets at a range of 4-70 km and each battery consists of a multi-mission radar manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries and three launchers, each equipped with 20 interceptors named Tamir.
The defense minister also praised the IDF’s operations in the southern region. “The IDF is doing a very good job – very professional and creative, with [good] results, along the border and in the Gaza Strip itself,” he said.
“Terror organizations in the Strip took a hard hit during the last 10 days,” Barak said, adding that the groups had lost fighters during that period.
He noted that “some 100 rockets and mortars that reached communities further [from the Strip] than usual” were hit, including Beersheba, Ashdod, Sderot, Ashkelon, and the Gaza border-region communities. “We have no intention to allow terrorist organizations to renew the situation and breaking the status quo,” he said. The defense minister added, “We will act as it is needed to return the operations back to the [border] line itself.”
JERUSALEM (AP) – Israeli aircraft struck a Palestinian rocket squad in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, as a new defense system to protect southern Israel from militants’ rockets prepared to go online after years of development, the military said.
Two Islamic Jihad militants were killed in the attack and one was critically wounded, said the group, which did not specify whether they were in the process of launching rockets.
Gaza militants, including Islamic Jihad and the territory’s Hamas rulers, had said over the weekend that they would cease fire if Israel did. It was not clear whether they were reneging on that pledge or whether the air strike hit a rogue group of militants ignoring the cease fire.
Weeks of stepped-up rocket and mortar attacks have drawn fears of renewed war and led to new calls in Israel for the military to deploy the $200 million Iron Dome anti-rocket system.
The Israeli military said the system should begin operating on Sunday near Beersheba, southern Israel’s largest city. A second anti-missile battery will be deployed in another large southern city, Ashdod, the military added, without specifying an exact date.
Security officials said the new spate of rocket attacks from Gaza and public pressure had led the military to deploy the system, which is still being fine-tuned. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss operational decisions.
Last week , it was reported on a website that posted photographs and details of some 200 IDF officers and soldiers whom the website named as ‘war criminals‘ for their actions during Operation Cast Lead. Here’s a letter from a reservist who is insulted that he wasn’t named to the list. It’s quite powerful.
As it turns out, the Israeli who produced the list – and there is almost no doubt it’s an Israeli, who is intimately familiar with the IDF – did not do a particularly thorough job. In any case, he missed me.
I served in the Gaza Division war room for 26 days and saw everything in real time. I saw how every time we had to curb Qassam fire from populated areas, officials considered it seven times and meticulously calculated the firing range and angle, as not to hurt civilians by mistake.
I also saw how, to be on the safe side, the army consulted with its legal advisor and with a representative of the Coordination and Liaison Administration who were regularly deployed in the war room.
I saw the great seriousness in addressing a water pipe that burst in Rafah, and the kind of effort invested in order to bring food into the Strip and allow ambulances to evacuate wounded Palestinians from the war zone.
I also participated in assessment sessions with the division commander; a major part of them pertained to humanitarian issues.
I walked around Sderot, which looked like a ghost town after sustaining dozens of Qassam rockets, and I also saw the Grad missiles making their way to Ashkelon without anybody being able to stop them. Believe me, it’s not a heart-warming sight.
Read it all. The picture is a ‘Palestinian’ crying over a friend who had just been executed during Operation Cast Lead. No, not by Israel. By Hamas.
It would be an interesting idea to create a “Media Museum” based on the three factors: Claims by the Media and or NGO, claims of individuals and claims of the government and present this information side by side to show how the International or shall I say Islamic community manipulated truth to attack a people with genocide. They call it Lawfare, but I would love to see a museum dedicated to exposing the lies. There are plenty of museums dedicated to atrocity, but how many museums are dedicated to exposing lies? I propose that there should be a museum dedicated in Israel to the abuse of media
Over 12,000 Kassam (Qassam) Rockets have been fired into southern Israel in the last 8 years, deliberately targeting Israeli civilians, causing chaos, destruction and death. An entire generation of children has been traumatized by the terror of ongoing rocket attacks. Israeli cities such as Sderot and Ashkelon continue to be in real danger. As Hamas’ Kassam Rocket stockpiles continue to increase, this is a war on terror