Last week, the IDF murdered a wanted Palestinian militant. Israeli authorities claim the suspect, Basel Al-Arej, was responsible for attacks against Israelis. Of course, he was never charged for any of these alleged crimes. That doesn’t matter to his killers or Israeli media. He was an Arab killer. A terrorist. Human scum. According to those responsible for killing him, he sought to go out in a blaze of glory and started the ensuing gun battle. I’ve covered enough of these stories to know it’s far more likely he was executed in cold blood; after which the military or police press representative tidied up events to make them presentable to a gullible Israeli audience.
Keep in mind that the dead man had been charged with no crime, let alone convicted. Yet Israeli media portrayed him as a very “bad hombre,” in Trump parlance. A “terrorist” in Israeli parlance. In Israel, you don’t have to be convicted of a crime to be a terrorist. In fact, the majority of the Israeli far right sees every Palestinian as a terrorist. A substantial minority of all Israeli Jews see all Palestinian MKs as terrorists.
If you’re used to the concept of due process, rule of law or “innocent till proven guilty,” these only hold for Israeli Jews, not Palestinians. Years ago I once believed in the romantic liberal notion of a hybrid “Jewish, democratic state.” But the Israeli far right has disabused many of us of the notion. It has taken the concept of a Jewish state to its logical, racist extreme and destroyed the possibility it might ever exist.
“The intellectual is the first to fight” and never gives up. #باسل_الاعرج pic.twitter.com/lY3hwjqe7M
— Palestine Info Centr (@palinfoen) March 6, 2017
Into this swirling stew of racism walked Israel public broadcasting newscaster, Samah Wated. She retweeted a Palestine Information Center post which memorialized Al-Arej and offered a quotation about the power of resistance. Keep in mind that thousands of journalists note explicitly in their Twitter timelines “RTs do not imply endorsement.” Wattad confirmed this in a subsequent posting. She also added that she does not endorse armed resistance.
Do we really think that if there had been social media in 1948 that Israeli Jews wouldn’t have been retweeting such messages lionizing leaders of the Jewish resistance to British Mandatory rule? And that British authorities might not have sought to fire Jewish journalists for their temerity in supporting “terrorists?”
Bibi Netanyahu let loose a barrage off incendiary rhetoric claiming that the new public broadcasting authority was a nest of leftist vipers; and that she had “praised a terrorist.” The real insanity here is this is the same broadcasting authority Bibi proposed when he wanted to “reform” (i.e. neutralize) the leftist propaganda supposedly spewed by the Israel Broadcasting Authority. He later thought better of the notion, then tried to kill it. But his own nationalist allies said “not so fast.” So now Bibi assaults the very Golem he himself created to flatter himself.
Returning to Wattad, in apartheid Israel a Palestinian walks through a perpetual minefield without a map. She stepped on an explosive device. When far-right reporter Kalman Liebskind discovered her tweet, he went to town. He reported it and the pressure to sack her began. After receiving support from the Israeli journalist association, she was suspended rather than fired. Later, she was demoted: she will no longer anchor the news. She will only do investigative reporting.
This is another nail in the coffin of press freedom. Another nail in the coffin of free speech. This is death not by firing squad, but by Retweet. Another attempt to rid the airwaves of what Southerners used to call “uppity Ni==÷/s.”
Enough of your rancid, yellow journalism.
Basel al-Arej was killed after he opened fire on the Israeli security forces and here is the video cam evidence.
To lie and say that he was ‘executed in cold blood’ libels the IDF soldiers who risked their lives, and it demeans Basel al-Arej, who choose to die fighting for his cause.
Shame on you again and again Richard.
Deïr Yassin says
I’ve already seen this video various times, maybe I’m blind but I don’t see Basel al-Araj opening fire, anyway …. this is in Zone A, the Israeli army has nothing to do there ! And your link claims he was killed in his home in al-Bireh, but Al-Araj was from al-Walaja (not the village of al-Walaja destroyed in 1948, but the new al-Walaja that Israel has destrpyed too by building their Apartheid Wall on their land), and the house in al-Bireh was his hide.
Basel al-Araj was killed because he was a strong voice for Palestinians, a brilliant intellectual, he’s done research for the Palestine Museum, and was very involved in teaching young Palestinians about their history.
We’ve heard lots of BS from the Israelis, right after he was executed, some media claimed he was close to Hamas …. utter BS, he was affiliated with no political party, and authored a book about Antonio Gramsci, not really an Islamist reference.
An other Palestinian hero killed by the fascist State of Israel.
“CNN on Wednesday removed its senior editor of Middle Eastern affairs, Octavia Nasr, after she published a Twitter message saying that she respected the Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah”.
No, Aparthyde Palastinian authority and Canada!
“The (now former) Palestinian envoy to Canada was removed from her post after she retweeted a link to a video that was extremely offensive to Jews….In her defense, Ali claims that she did not click over to the video before retweeting it, so she had no idea that it contained offensive content.”
“RTs do not imply endorsement.” is a poor excuse. if not endorsement why the hell is the point of retweeting it?
Richard Silverstein says
@ Amico: Not the same bud. Octavia Nasr affirmatively praised the cleric. Wattad did not such thing. A RT is NOT an endorsement. Nasr’s tweet was. Regardless, I think Nasr’s removal was stupid. Further, it was likely engineered by the Israel Lobby, which makes it even more repulsive. But Wattad didn’t do anything close to what Nasr did.
As for the second example, I don’t know what the video dealt with. But Wattad’s RT wasn’t nearly the same. The martyr killed by Israel had not been convicted of any crime. Not even charged with one. So what Wattad did is clearly offensive to you & the Israeli nationalist right, it’s not objectively offensive to anyone else. You see, we here outside Israel believe people aren’t guilty because they’ve been liquidated by the IDF or Shabak. We like evidence which your secret police never seem to offer in such cases.
You clearly don’t use Twitter. If you did you’d know the hundreds of reasons users RT material. Sometimes they think it’s funny. Sometimes they think it’s idiotic. Sometimes they like it. Sometimes they hate it. There are as many reasons to RT as there are human beings. I definitely do not always like or agree with material I RT.
‘ The martyr killed by Israel had not been convicted of any crime.’
Twelve other suspected terrorists were arrested during the raid. Only al-Arej was killed. Why?
Because he shot at the soldiers and they shot back and killed him. That’s why.
Richard Silverstein says
That’s your story and you’re stickin’ to it!
Of course its not the same…The CNN is a private broadcasting company while Ms Wattad is working for the Israeli public media corporation and not for one of the many Israeli privately owned news outlets. That is, her salary comes from the Israeli tax payer money. And most Israeli tax payers don’t appreciate it when someone is “glorifying” (assuming for now that that was the meaning of the retweet) an enemy combatant. I don’t care if you define that enemy combatant as a terrorist or not. I don’t think most of the American public would have appreciated if a news anchor would have tweeted or retweeted a similar piece with the picture of an Afghan combatant killed by the American army in Afghanistan, whether they consider that Afghan as a terrorist or “just” an enemy soldier.
And Ms wattad defense for her action never included the argument that that guy was not a combatant. Particularly as in his picture included in the tweet he was wearing camouflage…
“You clearly don’t use Twitter. If you did you’d know the hundreds of reasons users RT material. Sometimes they think it’s funny. Sometimes they think it’s idiotic. Sometimes they like it. Sometimes they hate it”.
Sure, but there is no reason Ms Wattad would think that this tweet is funny or that she objects to it. Not given her past statements and not given her initial response to channel 20. She, nor you, have provided any other reasonable motivation to retweet this thing besides supporting it. Just stating that retweeting something does not mean you support it is a lame excuse. Sounds like a way to avoid accountability.
The sanctions against Ms Wattad were minimal. She was not fired (like in the CNN example) and was not permanently demoted. She was suspended from presenting the news “till further notice”
Which means that after people will forget this story she may again be allowed to be a presenter.
Personally, I think she made a mistake and faced proper consequences. For sure, shouting “Apartheid” about this whole thing is “a bit” of an exaggeration
Richard Silverstein says
@ Amico: one thing you will have to come to terms with is that this is a civil war. The Palestinians reject their treatment at your hands. But they have every right to do so because they are part of you.
You have no idea what the victim was, since he was assassinated w/o trial. You don’t even know if he was armed. Israeli forces often assassinate Pajestinian victims in cold blood as I’ve confirmed here. So calling someone an enemy combatant is a misnomer. He was no more that than George Washington or Menachem Begin was in 1947. So the Afghan analogy falls flat on its face. A better analogy would be to call Black Lives Matters activists or Malcom X enemy combatants, which would be racist & false.
OMG! Camouflage? Then let’s assassinate the millions of Anerican men who post pictures of themselves in camouflage! They must be enemy combatants too!
Nor was Wattad “glorifying” him. She merely retweeted a post with a quote from him or another unspecified source.
Lets see what a Palestinian journalist has to say about this guy:
“After the Palestinian Authority imprisoned him last year along with two other youths on allegations that they had unlicensed weapons and were planning to attack Israeli targets, Basel was tortured and undertook a hunger strike as the PA prolonged his arrest for months without charges.”
and another source
“His death – in a violent raid during which Israel said its forces engaged in a two-hour shoot-out with the fugitive – has been seen by some as a turning point.”
“a two-hour shoot-out with the fugitive”. Got is? if there was exchange of fire than this guy was armed and was firing towards the Israeli forces. That is-he was an enemy combatant.
Now, you may be sympathetic with his cause but it does not change the fact that he was an enemy combatant. and of course Begin was an enemy combatant of the British!
Although, by the way, most of Jewish population in 1947 objected to his actions and at times he and his organization were targeted by the major Jewish militia- the Hagana.
Also, Black Lives Matters activists or Malcom X are/were American citizens, unlike Basel who was not an Israeli citizen but rather lived in the Palestinian authority. Big difference.
Another rather big difference- as much as I know Black Lives Matters activists do not engage in armed struggle against the USA or the American police, thus they are not “combatant”.
I have no Problem with Palestinians (either citizens of Israel or of the PA) that engage in political activism. When they shoot or support those who shoot- than I have a problem.
Richard Silverstein says
@ Amico: Hmmm. The victim, known as a Palestinian intellectual who staffed a Palestinian museum, was imprisoned by the PA. That is, imprisoned by one of the more corrupt, anti-democratic regimes in that neck of the Middle East. So that means precisely what? That he was guilty of whatever he was charged with by Abbas’ henchmen?
As for the alleged 2 hour gun battle: that was Al Jazeera reporting what ISRAEL CLAIMED. To which we credit how much accuracy? Hmmm, let me think: none, how is none for an answer? Any claim concerning whether he was armed or what he did isn’t supported by any credible evidence. If this was the case, show us the video of the incident. If you do & he’s seen firing I’ll acknowledge this here.
As I said to you, Palestinians, ALL Palestinians are part of Israel-Palestine. They are all yours. Every single one of them who lives there. So saying he wasn’t a citizen is bullshit. You own the Occupation. You own Palestine (figuratively). You own everyone in it. They’re all yours. You can’t make distinctions.
News anchor, seriously?
A fact checker at the new (as yet unopened) public TV corporation.
Richard Silverstein says
@Stan: you clearly don’t know Hebrew. The story I linked to says she was a “presenter.” That is a news anchor. She was demoted to researcher, not fact checker.
Other media in Israel had her as תחקירנית all along – which in Israeli media is the equivalent of a low-level research job.
Since the channel isn’t even on the air yet (and its going live is currently the trigger to possibly new elections) – Ms Wattad was not yet a presenter (and definitely not an anchor) of anything. Her role of מגישה will be part of the corporation’s digital media department (which means she will present a show that will be available online only) – also, not an anchor (being an anchor at the age of 24 would probably be a record of some sort).
If the channel go online – it appears that Ms. Wattad will be at her previously defined position, so this whole debate is moot.
Richard Silverstein says
@ Stan: Those reports are wrong. She was demoted to be a researcher. That wasn’t her former job. That was as presenter.
Since the debate is moot, you are done in this thread.