Friday, April 16, 2010

Image and reality in Gaza, the Lebanon, Chechnya and elsewhere

It cannot be said often enough; most "journalists" have to earn the right to be called a "journalist". and 'Haaretz' reports today that the IDF have killed a Palestinian in clashes "near the Gaza border". A Palestinian "gunman", we are told, was "planting explosives", we are told, near the security fence "along the border" we are told and we are also told the "gunman" also "threw a grenade". Therfore, the first question we might want to ask is who told us? Well, 'Haaretz' tells us, that the military, that's right the IDF, told us and the inclination is to think and think that "near the Gaza border" was certainly not on the Israeli side of the border, that the man might even have been trying to plant or harvest in what was left of his farm for all we know and that there was no grenade thrown, not even a stone, unless, of course, the "gunman" wanted to die. The Palestinians are certainly not around to tell their version of events. However, even if they were, would we get to hear it?

Seattle 1999 and the Independent Media Centre gets the pictures out of the police shooting rubber bullets at demonstrators. The rubber bullets that the police had denied shooting. Difficult, however, when the Internet shows video recordings, courtesy of the Independent Media Centre, of the police shooting rubber bullets. Wikleaks April 2010 and it is a bit difficult for the Pentagon to continue denying that a U.S. Army Apache helicopter  repeatedly opened fire on a group that included a Reuters photographer and his driver  and then on a van that stopped to rescue one of the wounded men, when the film of the killings is there for all to see. This is not the type of journalism the murderers in Washington, London, Jerusalem and elsewhere want and, of course, there is the Israeli answer;  keep them out, the real journalists,  keep all of them out and that, at least, would save them an embarrassment and questions of the type Putin was confronted with when his killers assassinated Anna Politkovskaya. No keep the journalists away from the real news and let them talk to the spokesmen and women; "a spokesman for the White House, said ......", "an spokesman for the IDF said....", "a British government spokesman told reporters", "Mr Putin explained ........"

Of course, we also need the real journalists and, yes, "journalists" have to earn the right to be called "journalist" and my own mind drifted back to the Lebanon in 2006 and the hurry and flurry but still managing to get a good breakfast down, before being picked up by our car and taken to the docks at Beruit, the wait, but no shortage of snacks and coffee while waiting, and then the journalists in the short sleeved shirts, standing in front of the ships, microphone in one hand, Starbucks coffee in the other, and there they were interviewing us for Joe Soap back home. Oh and how ego suffered; had to get up very early that morning, was a trifle tired and that Starbucks coffee did look tempting and down the road and just around the corner, there was the real news, the news from Qana, from Bint Jbeil, from Dahiyeh .

Of course, there are the Robert Fisks, the John Pilgers and the Anna Politkovskayas and the powers that be realise that it is sometimes best just not to let them near the scene of the crime and back to Gaza today and the IDF have killed a Palestinian in clashes near the Gaza border. And the band? Well, the band played believe it if you like and the band will continue to play that tune until most of our journalists earn the right to call themselves journalists.
The picture shows British journalists during the 2006 war in the Lebanon.

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