UPDATE: I published a link to this post on my Facebook timeline. Normally, it would display the headline and preview of the featured image. In this case, it’s the picture of Shireen’s funeral displayed here. But I got an error message from Buffer, my social media publisher, which I display here. Apparently, pro-Israel trolls have mass reported this image as “abusive.” And Facebook, in its infinite wisdom has agreed. So the space where the preview image should display is blank. No message from Facebook explaining this. So I can’t appeal the decision. Imagine trolls with the chutzpah to report an image of a murdered woman’s funeral as abusive. Is it any more abusive than her murder itself??
To give you an idea of how arbitrary and uncoordinated the censorship is, I uploaded the same funeral image as my Facebook banner image and it’s doing just fine there.
In the days since Shireen Abu-Aqleh’s murder at the hands of an IDF sniper in Jenin, Israel has turned her death into a political circus.
Every official statement from every Israeli official offers a smokescreen to conceal Israeli responsibility for her killing. Everything from “Palestinians militants killed her;” to “caught in crossfire” during clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants; to video showing Palestinian militants firing weapons and shouting someone (presumably Shireen) was wounded. All this is bollocks.
There is only one thing we need to know: who shot her and who ordered the killing. The murderer was one of the snipers on a rooftop in Jenin. Israel knows who it was. But they’re protecting him. They’re not telling, and that is the heart of the matter. Long drawn-out investigations hardly matter compared to the cold, hard truth of a sniper’s bullet. The only thing we need to know is whose gun fired it. But will we? It’s doubtful. It’s far more important to conceal the truth than reveal it.
Israel tries different lines of attack to see which one resonates most with foreign media. The one picked up most widely is the one they flog till it drops out of view. Then they come up with a new angle. One which it’s found promising is demanding that the Palestinian Authority permit it to join in an investigation of her death. This is desirable from an Israeli perspective, because it suggests uncertainty about Shireen’s murder and offers a “reasonable” way of ascertaining the circumstances and cause of her death. The presumption is that a joint investigation can finally conclude the truth, which is not yet known.
Naftali Bennett here demands that the Palestinians permit him to join the investigation:
“I expect full, open and transparent cooperation,” he said, adding, “I also hope that the Palestinian Authority will not take any actions meant to obstruct the investigation or compromise its due process in a way that will prevent us from reaching the truth.”
Bennett can ‘expect’ whatever he wants. That doesn’t mean he’s going to get it. In fact, Shireen Abu Aqleh expected she would do her job as a journalist and report on Israeli incursions into Palestinian communities. She didn’t get what she expected either. So Abbas, if he had any guts, would tell Bennett: you’ll pardon me but I’m far more concerned with Shireen’s unfulfilled expectations than I am with yours.
The notion of “due process” is also quite interesting. What sort of due process has Israel offered the hundreds of Palestinian civilians it’s killed in the past few decades? Or the 55 Palestinian journalists it murdered since 2000? The nerve of him to use that term. I wish Will Smith were here to tell him: “You keep ‘due process’ out of your fucking mouth!”
Let’s also remind Bennett of the hypocrisy of demanding it participate in determining how Shireen died when Israel itself routinely refuses to participate in any inquiries into its war crimes and other heinous acts against Palestinians. It refuses to participate in the ICC inquiry into war crimes stemming from Operation Protective Edge. It refused to participate in the Goldstone Inquiry after an earlier Gaza invasion. It boycotted a UN Human Rights Council tribunal. It has also not only treated UN human rights rapporteurs as persona non grata, it has denied them entry to Palestine. So, it’s rich to hear Israel now demand of the Palestinians what it’s refused to do when requested by international bodies.
Israel has persuaded the Biden administration to pressure the PA to agree to this travesty according to an Israeli journalist:
The Biden administration is pressing Israel and the Palestinian Authority to engage in a joint investigation into the death of Palestinian American Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh as soon as possible, according to three sources briefed on the issue…
Biden administration officials also spoke to [Palestinian minister for civilian affairs] al-Sheikh and stressed they wanted to see a joint investigation, two sources briefed on the issue said.
It’s hard to imagine what leverage the US has since it has done nothing on behalf of Palestinians since the start of the Trump presidency in 2016. I can certainly imagine the US offering some sort of blandishment designed to entire Mahmoud Abbas to acquiesce to this demand. But if he agrees, he will have to face the combined outrage of West Bank Palestinians. Will he carry water for the Israelis and Americans or bow to the Palestinian people?
It is shameful for the Americans to take such a position, let alone get involved at all. A US citizen has been murdered by Israel. And what does our government do? It farms out the investigation to her murderer. Can anyone imagine a district attorney proposing to a rape victim that her rapist play a direct role in the investigation?
Palestinians have made perfectly reasonable suggestions: ask the ICC to investigate; or create an independent tribunal. Those would be bodies free of bias, taint or undue pressure. Instead, Israel proposes to be the fox in the hen house and wants to be absolved of any responsibility for the hens it slaughters and consumes.
It is deeply offensive for both the Biden administration and the Israelis have desecrated Shireen and her memory. Her murder is a human tragedy. Don’t they dare turn it into a political shitshow. Don’t dare let them exploit her for their own partisan political games.
To add insult to injury, yesterday Israeli police invaded Shireen’s home while the family was in mourning. Officers barged in uninvited and demanded the family remove Palestinian flags from the house. They also objected to the singing of Palestinian national songs. Can you imagine during the Mandate if British soldiers killed a Jewish militant and then forced their way into the home as the mourners were singing Ha’Tikvah??
The latest insult du jour was a police summons to Shireen’s brother compelling him to appear at the local station:
Anton Abu Akleh, her brother, was summoned to a police station in northern Jerusalem and warned that police will disperse the funeral proceedings if things get out of hand.
Joint List MKs Ahmad Tibi and Osama Saadi accompanied Anton to the police station…
The police demanded that the brother personally ensure no one in the procession of thousands would hoist a Palestinian flag or shout slogans. Imagine what awesome power that poor guy must have to be able to control thousands and bend their will to his.
Imagine your sister is murdered and you plan a funeral procession to the cemetery. But the police chief, who is the brother of the murderer, summons you to his office and tells you what you can and can’t do as part of the ceremony. Only in Israel or a similarly authoritarian state would the police have the nerve to treat human beings with such disdain.
…Hundreds of police officers — including many undercover — are slated to be deployed on Friday along the funeral route to ensure things proceed calmly…
A police official [said] that every effort is being made to ensure the funeral proceeds without interruptions.
“The whole world is looking at us and at this event,” the official was quoted as saying. “The goal is to prevent as much as possible any friction.”
I can imagine Bull Connor telling the local newspaper that his officers would be at the Edmund Pettus Bridge when Martin Luther King brought his followers across it, to “ensure things proceed calmly.” Because of course, that’s what hundreds of police officers including undercover officers disguised as Palestinians, do. They keep the peace. They ensure that Shireen and her family will have a calm, peaceful and respectful funeral.
There seems to be an Israeli disconnect between what they think they are doing and what they are actually doing. Hundreds of police at a funeral will not ensure calm. The police presence is a match that will light the indignation of the mourners. There should be no police at all. They have no place there. After you murder the greatest Palestinian journalist of her generation, you propose to keep the peace by shoving them down the throats of the aggrieved?
World media too have collaborated in this silencing of truth with headlines that obscure what really happened. The NY Times says Shireen “was killed…during clashes.” Forbes says she “died after being hit in the head by a bullet.” Can you imagine news reports of Lincoln’s era saying the President was “hit in the head by a bullet?” What was John Wilkes Booth doing? Playing pinochle? The Economist added: she “was killed…”
The media is collaborating, whether tacitly or explicitly, with the Israeli government in refusing to allow the dead and their survivors the right to live, die and mourn as they choose. When a woman is raped, do reporters clamor to offer the rapist’s version of events? Do they publish accounts from the suspect blaming the victim and claiming he couldn’t possibly have committed the crime? Do their stories serve the rapist by clouding events and turning them into a he said-she said contest? That’s what the media is doing here. It is a shameful betrayal of journalism: a profession serving a state’s interests instead of those of a murder victim and her grieving people.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.