No such thing as ‘the voiceless’ – only the deliberately silenced

29 Apr

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By Ramzy Baroud, Arab News, 29 April 2016

Citizen journalism in Mideast

Arundhati Roy (prize-winning author. Ed) once wrote: “There’s really no such thing as the ‘voiceless.’ There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard.”

The term “voiceless” gives the misleading impression that the infirmity is in those who have no voice, not in us — media professionals and content creators — who refuse to give those alleged ‘voiceless’ a platform to speak.

The Middle East is rife with this unsettling reality, and Middle Eastern journalists are as guilty as outsiders who perceive the region’s seemingly perpetual conflicts as a mere opportunity for fame and recognition.

Yet, it rarely dawns on many journalists to position their reporting on the Middle East from grassroots, beginning with people who are mostly disgruntled by whatever story is being reported: The victims, their families and the community as a whole. While such voices are often neglected or used as content fillers, they are seldom the centre of any serious reporting from the region.

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Did the Arabs Betray Palestine?

27 Apr

photo-7Wall art in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt expressing solidarity with the Palestinian struggle – ‘The struggle is one ..the borders are dust..’ (Nov 2012. Photo: Kia Ora Gaza)

By Ramzy Baroud, Middle East Monitor, 26 April 2016

At the age of 21, I crossed Gaza into Egypt to pursue a degree in political science. The timing could have not been worse. The Iraq invasion of Kuwait in 1990 had resulted in a US-led international coalition and a major war, which eventually paved the road for the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. I became aware that Palestinians were suddenly ‘hated’ in Egypt because of Yasser Arafat’s stance in support of Iraq at the time. I just did not know the extent of that alleged ‘hate.’

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US senators push Obama to increase military aid to Israel

26 Apr

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu listens to US President Barack Obama during a 2013 meeting in the White House (AFP/Saul Loeb, File)

Ma’an News Agency report, Bethlehem, 25 April 2016

Over 80 US senators push Obama to increase military aid to Israel

More than 80 percent of American senators signed a letter addressed to US President Barack Obama urging him to reach an agreement on an increased military aid package to Israel.

“In light of Israel’s dramatically rising defense challenges, we stand ready to support a substantially enhanced new long-term agreement to help provide Israel the resources it requires to defend itself and preserve its qualitative military edge,” news agency Reuters quoted the letter as saying.

A reported 83 of the 100 Senators in US Congress signed the letter, including aspiring Republican presidential nominee Ted Cruz, but excluding Senator Bernie Sanders, who is running in the Democratic presidential primaries.

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Israel’s silent war against journalists in Palestine

26 Apr

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Palestinian journalist flees from tear gas shot by Israeli soldiers at the border with Gaza [file photo]

By Dr Daud Abdullah, Middle East Monitor, 25 April 2016

Israel’s silent war against journalists in Palestine

There are at least 20 journalists, including one woman, and media students who are being held in Israeli jails in the legal limbo known as administrative detention.

Omar Nazzal was on his way to attend the General Meeting of the European Federation of Journalists in Bosnia when he was detained by Israeli soldiers on Saturday as he tried to cross from the occupied West Bank into Jordan. He is the latest victim of a growing list of Palestinian journalists who have been arrested and detained arbitrarily by the occupation forces. It confirms more than anything else the lengths to which Israel is prepared to go in order to silence Palestinian voices and destroy media freedoms.

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Why Israel fears nonviolent resistance

21 Apr

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By Hilary Wise, Middle East Eye, 20 April 2016

Israel is running scared. How else to explain the rising barrage of law fare, lobbying and accusations of antisemitism directed at any criticism?

The growing international Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement is becoming the major target for Israel diplomatically, while at home it is the whistle-blowers and truth-tellers who are being most savagely attacked. Special venom is reserved for them.

In the West Bank, communities under occupation have been increasingly responding to land grabs, house demolitions and arbitrary arrests by organising regular and patient sit-ins and demonstrations, with occasional more high-profile projects, like the setting up of the Bab AlShams tented village.

To these actions, Israel reacts with routine violence – despite the fact that the ensuing scenes are viewed worldwide on social media, over which Israel has no control. The West Bank village of Bil’in is probably the best known centre of nonviolent resistance, thanks in part to the prize-winning film “5 Broken Cameras”.

Speaking last year in the US Iyad Burnat, leader of the Bil’in resistance group, said the beauty of such actions is that they involve the whole community, building social cohesion and sustaining morale, while bringing in Israeli and international activists who act as messengers to the outside world.

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Israel demolishes children’s playground near Nablus

14 Apr

161193080The Israeli army flattened the Za’atara park within a few minutes. It was the only place for children to play in the town of Beita, south of Nablus. (Photo: Palestinian Information Centre)

Ma’an News Agency report, Bethlehem, 13 April, 2016

Israel destroys 3 homes, public park amid mass demolition campaign

Israeli forces on Tuesday demolished three Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank village of al-Walaja and a children’s park near Nablus amid a mass escalation in demolitions across the occupied area this year. A PA official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, Ghassan Daghlas, told Ma‘an that Israeli bulldozers razed a children’s park in Zaatara south of Nablus. The Israeli authorities gave no prior notice before demolishing the park, which was built last year with around $60,000 donated by Belgium via the Municipal Developing and Lending Fund, Daghlas said.

Locals told Ma‘an that bulldozers escorted by Israeli military forces also raided the Ein al-Jweizeh area in northern al-Walaja near Bethlehem, demolishing three homes that were still under construction.The homeowners — al-Walaja residents Maher Abu Khyara, Issa Qintar and Obeida al-Muhtasib — were reportedly told that the demolitions were carried out due to lack of proper building permits. Locals said Israeli military forces had raided the village several days prior to take photos of a number of homes and deliver demolition orders to their owners.

 

A culture of impunity in full view of the entire world

13 Apr

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File photo: clashes between Israeli occupation forces and Palestinian protestors

By Dr Ramzy Baroud, Middle East Monitor, 12 April 2016

The logic of murder in Israel: A culture of impunity in full view of the entire world

“Whether he made a mistake or not, is a trivial question,” said an Israeli Jewish man who joined large protests throughout Israel in support of a soldier who calmly, and with precision, killed a wounded Palestinian man in al-Khalil (Hebron). The protesting Jewish man described Palestinians as ‘barbaric’, ‘bestial’, who should not be perceived as people.

This is hardly a fringe view in Israel. The vast majority of Israelis, 68%, support the killing of Abdel Fatah Yusri al-Sharif, 21, by the soldier who had reportedly announced before firing at the wounded Palestinian that the “terrorist had to die.”

The killing scene would have been relegated to the annals of the many ‘contested’ killings by Israeli soldiers, were it not for a Palestinian field worker with Israel’s human rights group, B’Tselem, who filmed the bloody event.

The incident, once more, highlights a culture of impunity that exists in the Israeli army, which is not a new phenomenon.

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