Journalists need to ‘take a stand’ over the Gaza carnage after latest killings

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A Palestinian cartoon . . . media truth to power in Gaza
A Palestinian cartoon . . . media truth to power versus the Israeli military machine. Image: @AlhassanAbdurashid

David Robie also blogs at Café Pacific

Reporting Israel’s war on Gaza has become the greatest credibility challenge for journalists and media of our times. The latest assassination of an Al Jazeera photojournalist yesterday while documenting atrocities has prompted a leading analyst to appeal to global journalists to “take a stand” to protect the profession.

The killing of Hamza Dahdoud, the 27-year-old eldest son of Al Jazeera Gaza bureau chief Wael Dahdouh, along with freelancer Mustafa Thuraya, has taken the death toll of Palestinian journalists to 109 (according to Al Jazeera sources while global media freedom watchdogs report slightly lower figures).

Emotional responses and a wave of condemnation has thrown the spotlight on the toll faced by reporters and their families.

Wael Dahdouh, 52, lost his wife, daughter, grandson and 15-year-old son on October 25 in an earlier Israeli air raid that hit the house they were sheltering in. After mourning for several hours, Dahdouh senior was back on the job documenting the war.

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Just under 20 months ago, Al Jazeera’s best known correspondent, Shireen Abu Akleh, was fatally shot by an Israeli sniper while reporting on the Occupied West Bank on 11 May 2022 in what Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemned by saying this “systematic Israeli impunity is outrageous.”

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists protested about the killing of Hamza Dahdoud and Thuraya, saying it “must be independently investigated, and those behind their deaths must be held accountable”.

Al Jazeera reports 109 Palestinian journalists have been killed in Gaza
Al Jazeera reports 109 Palestinian journalists have been killed in Gaza . . . Israel is accused of “trying to kill messenger and silence the story”. Image: AJ screenshot APR

But few journalists would accept that this is anything other a targeted killing, as most of the deaths of Palestinian journalists in the latest Gaza war have been – a war on Palestinian journalism in an attempt to suppress the truth.

‘Nowhere safe in Gaza’
Certainly, Al Jazeera’s Palestinian-Israeli political affairs analyst and Marwan Bishara, who was born in Nazareth, has no doubts.

Speaking on the 24-hour Qatari world news channel, with at least 22,835 people killed in Gaza – 70 percent of them women and children — he said: “Nowhere is safe in Gaza and no journalists are safe . . . That tells us something.


“Killing the messenger”: Marwan Bishara’s interview with Al Jazeera — more tampering over the message? There is nothing “sensitive” in this clip.

“It is understood they are war journalists. But still the fact that more than 100 journalists were killed within three months is breaking yet another record in terms of killing children, and destruction of hospitals and schools, and the killing of United Nations staff.

“And now with 109 journalists killed this definitely requires a certain stand on the part of our colleagues around the world. Not just in a higher up institution.

“I am talking about journalists around the world – those who came to cover the World Cup in Doha for labour rights, or whatever. Those who are shedding tears in the Ukraine, those who are trying to cover Xinjiang in China [persecution of the Uyghur people], those who are claiming there are genocides happening right, left and centre – from China to Ukraine, to elsewhere.

“The same journalists who see in plain sight what is happening in Gaza should – regardless if we disagree on Israel’s motives, or Israel’s objectives in this war – must agree that the protection of journalists and their families is indispensable for our profession. And for their profession,” Bishara said.

“Journalists, and journalism associations and syndicates around the world – especially in those countries with influence on Israel, as in Europe, or the United States; journalists need to take a stand on what is going on in Gaza.

‘Cannot go unanswered’
“This cannot continue and go on unanswered. What about them?

“They’re going to be from various media outlets deploying journalists in war-stricken areas. They will have to call for the defence of journalists and their lives and their protection.

“This cannot go on like this unabated in Gaza,” Bishara added, as Israeli defence officials have warned the fighting could go on for another year.

The South African genocide case filed against Israel in the International Court of Justice seeking an interim injunction for a ceasefire and due for a hearing later this week could pose the best chance for an end to the war.

Bishara has partially blamed Western news networks for failing to report the war on Gaza accurately and fairly, a criticism he has made in the past and his articles about Israel are insightful and damning.

Al Jazeera analyst Marwan Bishara
Al Jazeera analyst Marwan Bishara . . . “The same journalists who see in plain sight what is happening in Gaza . . . must agree that the protection of journalists and their families is indispensable.” Image: AJ screenshot APR

His call for a stand by journalists has in fact been echoed in some quarters where “media bias” has been challenged, opening divisions among media groups about fairness and balance that have become the most bitter since the climate change and covid pandemic debates when media “deniers” and “bothsideism” threatened to undermine science.

In November, more than 1500 journalists from scores of US media organisations signed an open letter calling for integrity in Western media’s coverage of “Israeli atrocities against Palestinians”.

Israel has blocked foreign press entry, heavily restricted telecommunications and bombed press offices. Some 50 media headquarters in Gaza have been hit in the past month.

Israeli forces explicitly warned newsrooms they “cannot guarantee” the safety of their employees from airstrikes. Taken with a decades-long pattern of lethally targeting journalists, Israel’s actions show wide scale suppression of speech.

In the United Kingdom, eight BBC journalists wrote an open letter in late November to Al Jazeera accusing the British broadcaster of bias in its coverage of Gaza.

A 2300-word letter claimed that the BBC had a “double standard” and was failing to tell the Israel-Palestine conflict accurately, “investing greater effort in humanising Israeli victims compared with Palestinians, and omitting key historical context in coverage”.

In Australia, another open letter by scores of journalists and the national media union MEAA called for “integrity, transparency and rigour” in the coverage of the war and joined the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), RSF and others condemning the Israeli attacks on journalists and journalism.

Leading Australian newspaper editors of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age and the Nine network hit back by banning staff who had signed the letter. According to the independent Crikey, a senior Nine staff journalist resigned and readers were angrily cancelling their newspaper subscriptions over the ban.

Crikey later exposed many editors and journalists who had made junket trips to Israel and is currently keeping an inventory of these “influenced” media people — at least 77 have been named so far.

Crikey's running checklist on Australian journalists
Crikey’s running checklist on Australian journalists who have been to Israel.

In The Daily Blog, editor Martyn Bradbury has also questioned how many New Zealand journalists have also been influenced by Israeli media massaging. Bradbury wrote:

“If Israel has sunk that much time and resource charming Australian journalists and politicians, the question has to be asked, [has] the pro-Israel lobby sent NZ journalists and politicians on these junkets and if they have, who are they?”

He wrote to the NZ Press Gallery, the “journalist union” and media companies requesting a list of names.

Pacific journalists ought to be also added to the list.

I have just returned from a two-month trip in the Mediterranean, Red Sea and Australia. After a steady diet of comprehensive and well backgrounded reporting from global news channels such as TRT World News and Al Jazeera (which contrasted sharply in quality, depth and fairness with stereotypical Western coverage such as from BBC and CNN), I was stunned by the blatant bias of much of the Australian news media, particularly News Corp titles such as The Australian and The Advertiser in Adelaide.

Some examples of the bias and my commentaries can be seen here, here, here, here, here and here.

A pithy indictment of much of the Western reporting — including in New Zealand — can be read in the Middle East Eye and other publications.

Exposing much of the Israeli propaganda and fabricated claims since October 7 (and even from time of The Nakba in 1948), award-winning columnist Peter Osborne wrote:

“I am haunted by one other consideration. It is not just that Western commentators, columnists and chat show hosts often don’t know what they are talking about. It’s not even that they pretend they do.

“It’s the comfort of their lives. They sit in warm, pleasant studios where they earn six-figure sums for their opinions. They take no risks and convey no truths.”

A polar opposite from the Gaza carnage and the risks that courageous Palestinian journalists face daily to bear witness. They are an inspiration to the rest of us.

Dr David Robie is editor and publisher of Asia Pacific Report and Café Pacific, and moderator of Pacific Media Watch.

42 COMMENTS

  1. It’s like some mainstream media is absolutely terrified to call it as it is. No doubt US coverage is influenced by money from certain sources, but there is also seems to be this perpetual fear of being labelled as anti Jewish for pointing out the Israeli administration are being arseholes. It’s all very well pointing out the savagery of Hamas, but I can’t really tell the difference anymore. You can’t undo the holocaust, but there’s a certain crowd that hides behind that atrocity to justify another ( clearly on a different scale) Are Adolf’s relatives hanging out in Gaza?

  2. Journalists must take a stand? Will their bosses let them? I suspect many juniors are progressive, but most of those in charge are distinctly not.

  3. Yea…… except we know that Hamas control all information coming out of Palestine, so hardly free press. That’s why no casualty figures will single out Hamas militia. All deaths in Palestine are civilan deaths if you believe the media reports.

    • What a weak argument. I don’t think anyone is disputing a shit load of children have been killed. There is plenty of organisations that are not of Arab origin pointing out what the Israeli administration is unjustified. Christ, even the US administration have been “blushing “

      • What a weak reply. Erdogan is currently bombing Kurdish women and children, the Azerbaijanis are conducting a second Armenian genocide and massacres of Christians are rife in Nigeria, including the burning to death of Christian women and children. Why are there not plenty of organisations of non-Arab nations investigating these atrocities? Why are western nations so lily-livered they cannot bear to confront Islamic jihad, including that first line of war against Israel?

    • If Hamas control the information then the IDF must be useless, when even the pro-Israel biased Western media networks show the extreme civilian death & injury toll in Gaza you can be sure that the suffering will be even worse than what is commonly reported.

    • 23,000 dead civilians minus the “8000 dead Hamas” claimed by Israel and then add the 8000 missing under the rubble still equates to 23,000 dead Palestinians mainly Woman and Children.
      Still want to use that as a defense? Just saying.

  4. Dr Robie – Al Jazeera, parts of CNN/BCC give positive coverage to Gaza, without stating the most important factor of the war, Hamas must go before any ceasefire…otherwise, its’ a matter of time before another 7th Oct attack happens again.

    • Israel has been the aggressor since 1948, and Hamas is part of a resistance to occupation & as long as Israel continues their occupation other groups will arise to fight the occupation so removing Hamas will not prevent another October 7 event from happening, sure it will delay it you can be sure that the build-up of hate will manifest eventually.

          • Then remove the ancient hadith that has feed the Arab Jew hatred for over a millenium and is quoted with all its insane vitriol in the Hamas Charter.

      • Hamas, H.M.S in Arabic literally translates to “Islamic freedom movement”
        Hamas in Hebrew translates to violence.

    • It already is just a matter of time. The greatest achievement by the Israeli state with its current campaign of genocide and ethnic cleansing will be to recruit a new generation of embittered, enraged and traumatised extremists. You cant bomb your way to peace. They have guaranteed that this will drag on for decades.

  5. Mick Hall (In Context) has been faithfully and honestly covering the Israeli war on Gaza – but he never would have been allowed to do that while employed by RNZ. Gordon Campbell (Scoop) is another one who has been speaking out with courage. There may be others out there, and if so their names should be recorded here in a list of honour. Apart from that we have the citizen journalists (John Minto, Malcolm Evans, Martyn Bradbury and many others). Even Paul Buchanan has taken a stand. I would not have expected it from him, but there you go. Despite the perfidy of journalists in the official media, we have enough brave souls committed to the truth, and the public as a whole have not been taken in by the duplicity of the regime. There is hope for us, and there is still hope for Palestine.

  6. Yes it would be interesting to know of NZ and Pacific journalists who have been selected for tours, good times and plenty of the old flannel to Israel and home again. Not John Campbell I’m sure but Cam Slater has been there.
    The Australian journalist John Lyons in his book ‘Balcony Over Jerusalem’ talks about the junkets to Israel for Aussie journalists. He took himself and family and lived there, then wrote his book on his experiences.
    We now have lost John Pilger perhaps the last of the truly great journalists and Fisk died also a few years ago. Assange is rotting in Belmarsh Prison, Glen Greenwald gone from The Intercept and even well known US journalists like Matt Taibi and Chris Hedges have been sidelined.
    There are a few brave souls left, published now online in journals like Consortium News or on Substack. The NZ journalist Mick Hall was vilified in little old NZ for rephrasing a text into more of a reality rather than a load of slippery garbage. He also publishes on CN.
    Politicians in the West are unable to speak out against the present carnage in the ME, although they can all shriek and snarl in unison like a many headed hydra at a situation or perceived ‘enemy’ when Uncle Sam waves the baton, so we can’t expect the little running dogs and bitches of Western journalism to do more than drone out the dreary chorus of assent.
    RIP the true and free press and all who served her.

    https://consortiumnews.com/2024/01/08/patrick-lawrence-

    https://consortiumnews.com/2024/01/08/john-pilger-

  7. You can see the media bias here when the Wellington Mayor makes a mild comment to support the Palestinian people and stuff immediately have Juliet Moses complaining about the comments.

  8. Journalists need to take a stand??

    No, journalists need to do the research, sift fact from fiction, and provide accurate balanced reportage.

    • “journalists need to do the research, sift fact from fiction, and provide accurate balanced reportage”. That is exactly what we mean by “taking a stand”. When it comes to the Gaza genocide, with a few honourable exceptions, some of whom I have named above, New Zealand journalists do no research, can’t differentiate fact from fiction (or choose not to) and provide heavily biased reportage.
      And we need to have more honest reporting on what is happening in Israel itself, quite apart from the occupied Palestinian territories.
      How is it that the Jewish dream of a homeland in which they would be free to practise their religion and till the earth with their own hands has been corrupted into a state where exploited migrant labour from south east Asia, and tens of thousands of Arabs from the Palestinian territories are used to work stolen lands? Come to think about it, it sounds rather like the situation in a country not too far from here. A country where money means everything, honest labour is despised, and the land is merely an instrument of financial speculation. A country which has tacitly endorsed the Gaza genocide being perpetrated by the Israeli military. Enough said?

      • Are you really so naive as to not realise
        * central European death camps
        * assiduous attempts by al-Husseini to spread nazi ideology throughout the Middle East
        * three wars with Arab nations
        * numerous intifada
        * thousands of Israeli deaths from Arab Palestinian terror attacks
        * recalcitrant Palestinian retractions from peace negotiations
        * annihilation threats from Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas
        would produce a nation steeled to protect itself from further attempts to destroy it? And how do we know there will be further attempts? Why Hamas have guaranteed there will be. Do you not believe them?

        • I suggested that the Israel of the kibbutz and moshav, and with it the idea of a Jewish homeland, has given way to a crude system of capitalist exploitation and something akin to the apartheid regime in South Africa which depends on the exploitation of others (Arabs, Thais and so on) rather than the honest labour of Jews. In the process the state of Israel has become corrupt and divided within itself. It is also an angry nation, as your comment makes clear. But being angry, lazy and corrupt will not be sufficient to ensure the survival of the State of Israel – or for that matter the Realm of New Zealand.

          • But I thought those who view life through an oppressor/oppressed lens also claim colonisation is responsible for an angry nation. So after a millenium of control by supremacist Arab and Ottoman colonisers who stole their land and subjected them to the humiliating and demeaning dhimmi treatment, why would the indigenous peoples of Judea and Samaria not be angry?

  9. The term Zionism appeared only in the 1890s,* but the cause, the concept of Zion, has been present throughout Jewish history. A survey of the origins of Zionism must take as its starting point the central place of Zion in the thoughts, the prayers, and the dreams of the Jews in their dispersion. The blessing ‘Next year in Jerusalem’ is part of the Jewish ritual and many generations of practising Jews have turned towards the east when saying the Shemone Essre , the central prayer in the Jewish liturgy.

    • Yes, most of us know about the Jewish attachment to the land of Israel, and we recognise that this historical and religious attachment sets them apart from the usual run of colonizing peoples. However they still have to wrest the land from others and they have failed to find a way to do that without creating a great enmity among the people they have sought to dispossess. Israel’s success in winning wars over the last 75 years will ultimately be confounded by its failure to win the peace. Yet the State of Israel, to its great cost, cannot read the writing on the wall. Rather than trust in the God of Abraham it chooses to puts its faith in the satanic United States of America. That can only end one way.

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