Wednesday, March 12, 2008

We Covered Our Eyes

Words do fall into waiting places, waiting for the spirit, the body, to seize them again, warm and living things, anxious to do their work--words do not fail me, I fail the words. Here in Australia just yesterday, the government sang the praises of a free and democratic Israel, a leading newspaper headlining Israel as the island of civilization in a barbaric region.

March 8, 2008--Haaretz, again the words of Gideon Levy:
"Twilight Zone: A Great Darkness Has Fallen"
Operation Warm Winter ended without a single Israeli journalist setting foot on the Gaza`side of the Erez border crossing with Israel. Even the military correspondents, who usually recount the brave acts of our forces from inside their jeeps and armored vehicles, were not taken this time to report on the raids in Jabalya and Sajiyeh. A handful of other correspondents, those who are still interested in what the Israel Defense Forces leaves behind after its campaigns of killing and destruction, stayed home. They have been holed up in their houses for over a year and a half already.

March 3, 2008, words of Mohammed Omer, a Palestinian journalist living in the Gaza strip--find his words at

Yesterday I found arms and legs and fingers scattered in the streets everywhere. And this was the situation--burned flesh in the streets with children and kids and women. And so far, 130 Palestinians were killed in the last few days. Out of the 130, there are thirty-nine children, ten women, in addition to 370 children who were injured in the head and the upper side of the body, this which makes the whole situation at Kamala Adwan hospital quite difficult for the ambulance crews to deal with such cases...let me say here that among the people who were targeted or injured, there were three journalists, and one of them was severely injured in the northern part of the Gaza strip. We were shot at at different places, in addition to three medical workers and rescue teams who were injured, beside Mahmoud Zakut, who's a medical worker who was droven over by an Israeli tank while he was inside the area of the northern part of Gaza Strip, Jabaliya refugee camp, as he was trying to evacuate some bodies of the people...

Gideon Levy:
Don't believe the microphones you sometimes see in TV reports on Gaza, adorned with the logo of the Israeli television channels. They are meant only to deceive us. don't believe the meager reports in the press from Gaza that are written by Israeli correspondents. They are all done by phone, with all the limitations that involves. Not one local journalist, neither Jewish or Arab, neither Shlomi Eldar nor Suleiman al-Shafi, neither Amira Hass nor this writer, has passed through the Erez terminal since the end of November 2006. The press in Israel is under a major black-out; the IDF is not allowing it to do its job. Gaza, an hour and a half drive from Tel Aviv, is outside the range of journalistic coverage. Daring Israeli correspondents have traveled to Irag and Lebanon, Syria and Iran, to report to their readers what is happening there--but not to Gaza. It's as though the Strip, which is central to our diplomacy and security, and where everything that happens affects the Negev and the rest of the country, has been declared a closed military zone, as though it were beyond the Mountains of Darkness.

Mohammed Omer: ...and look at what Israel--the weapons that Israel is using. It is heavy weapons, and they are targeting also these civilian houses, so I'm not sure if we can compare the primitive weapons that the Palestinian resistance is using with the well-equipped army, one of the most powerful armies in the world, Israel. And they are using missiles that burns the bodies. And I can tell you and I can tell all the American people listening to this interview, that they're using the missiles that they're burning the bodies --and it can make a smell--it smells real bad here,. It smells like if you are--if you are--like an American barbecue, actually--but this is not an--this is not a cow, this is not beef; this is human being's flesh. It is scattered in the streets...

Gideon Levy:...This blackout on the actions of the IDF and the Shin Bet security services, and the fact that the Israeli press is forbidden to cover what is happening in the Strip, has been accepted with exemplary silence. The press bowed it s head, submissive and obedient, as in the bad old days when it maintained other disgraceful silences, from Qibya to Kafr Qasem....A rare coalition, almost wall to wall, seems very pleased with Gaza being closed off to coverage; When readers don't want to read, the government and the defense establishment don't want things to be read or broadcast, and the reporters, editors and publishers don't want to anger anyone either. They are all very pleased with the fact that Gaza is beyond the pale. Thus Israel has covered its eyes and looked away from what is happening on the other side of the fence, and a great darkness has fallen on the abyss.

Mohammed Omer: People here still don't have food. They have difficulty accessing food, have difficulty accessing different kinds of things. And probably you can hear the Israeli F16 right now. It's hovering in the sky and it has been bombing since the early morning and that was the case since the last few days. There is shortages of fuel as well for the ambulance workers. And I've been talking to one of the medical workers here, and he confirmed to me that 70 kinds of medicines that they could not find in the Palestinian hospitals in the northern part of the Gaza strip...

Gideon Levy: The exclusion of Gaza from Israeli coverage is critical. Just when millions of viewers and readers the world over are having their perception of the country shaped by the terrible pictures being broadcast from Gaza, occasionally in an exaggerated manner, they are witnessing an almost total absence of coverage from the Israeli side. It is one thing to hear or read that the IDF killed, assassinated and prevented some action, and another thing to see the result on the ground. Someone--and it must be an Israeli journalist--also has to reach the stricken and bleeding places after the missile has fallen, the shell has landed, the bulldozer has destroyed, the water has run out, the fuel is finished and the electricity is turned off. Someone has to tell the Israeli reader that when the IDF announces that it dropped a bomb on 'unoccupied huts,' as it did that day after the assassination of Shehadeh, it was in fact a house of several stories filled with residents, including many children.

Mohammed Omer: Such attacks makes Hamas stronger by people. And one hour from now, there will be demonstrations all over the Gaza Strip from the mosques and from the South, from the north, from the Middle East. And there will be tens of thousands of people going out by these demonstrations and calling for Hamas to take revenge for the killing of these Palestinians. So I can tell you that this is strengthening Hamas, and this is empowering Hamas...And people believe that, you know, the problem is not with the rockets; the problem is with the occupation... In Bethlehem, in Jenin, in Nablus, in Ramallah, there is no rockets but still the occupation is existing. ...The occupation kills on a daily basis. Forty-five Palestinians were injured and one Palestinian was killed, mostly students, they were coming in a protest in solidarity with Gaza in Hebron yesterday...So there is no dialogue, and there is no peace when it comes to this, but I can tell you that this shows that the Israelis are--they mean to make situation miserable for the Palestinians.

Gideon Levy: The deliberate covering of our eyes has gone even further this time....Part of the local, popular press that shapes mass opinion--the Yedioth Ahronoth and the Maariv dailies to be specific--decided that the killing of over 60 residents of Gaza in one day by our soldiers is not a story. The proof: there is no mention of it, not even implied, on the first pages of these two newspapers, their obvious showcase....This is how one shapes the opinions of the public--and also how one brainwashes it...The local popular press, almost free of censorship, highly professional and in part also selling well, opted for the gravest things of all: self censorship, of the kind that will never arouse any signs of opposition.

One day, when the historian or researcher burrows in the archives of these newspapers and tries to understand what happened here, he won't be able to understand a thing. He will only know that we had a press here that betrayed its role.

Mohammed Omer: I'm receiving news here from one of my colleagues here, and he says that the Israeli warships also in the Eastern-in the western part of the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip are firing rockets towards the fishermen and towards the houses of civilians. We're not sure if there are casualties, but they are confirming that the tanks in the north are launching rockets, and the Israeli warships in the south are also launching missiles towards the fishermen and the civilians' houses....

(I want to thank Jewishpeacenews. net for providing the interview with Mohammed Omar and Amira Hass conducted by Amy Goodman and to Rela Mazali, also of Jewish Peace News, for posting the article by Gideon Levy, who I see more and more as the poet of a terrible time, a terrible news. WWW.

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