Tuesday, August 17, 2010

This story is very familiar

Nevertheless, there is one thing that really shocks me in this article by Khaled Abu Toameh, an Israeli Arab Muslim Palestinian journalist, who works for the Jerusalem Post and writes for many other media outlets about Gaza and the West Bank. We know all too well about the double standards shown by the Western media when reporting about the Middle East, not least because going to Israel, writing about Israel and criticizing Israel is an easy thing to do.

It is much easier for a Western journalist to sit in Israel and write about Israel without having to worry about his or her safety. Why bother travel to an Arab country and risk being arrested or deported for writing a story that reflects negatively on the dictatorship there?
Besides, who said it's that easy to enter an Arab or Islamic country? The foreign reporters need an entry visa to most of these countries - a process that could last for weeks, months and years.

And when the foreign reporters arrives in an Arab capital, he or she are often escorted by "minders" of the Ministry of Information of that country. Then there are the mukhabarat [intelligence] agents who start following the reporters from the minute they arrive and until they leave.

Those who are found "guilty" of writing a story that angers the Arab dictator or any of his confidants should forget about applying for another visa.
Dog bites man, gardener digs soil, supermodel takes drugs. Big deal. But there is something shocking in hearing about Palestinian journalists and stringers, who are risking far more than those Western hacks and their editors, trying to get stories about such things as the "arrest last week of seven Palestinian university lecturers at the hands of Palestinian Authority security services in the West Bank" being rebuffed by the Western media.
Some Palestinian stringers and reporters offered the story about the arrest of the academics to at least a dozen foreign correspondents and newspaper editors in North America and Europe.

Only one foreign journalist agreed to write about the story. His colleagues gave different excuses for turning their backs on the story.

Some said they were concerned about their personal safety should they report a news item that was likely to anger the Western-funded PA security forces in the West Bank.

Others simply blamed their editors in New York, Paris, London and Toronto for turning down the story as "insignificant."

Earlier this week, a disenchanted Ramallah-based Palestinian journalist decided to put her Western colleagues to the test. She contacted the same group of newsmen and editors who had been offered the story on the academics' arrest with a "new idea" for a news item.

The Palestinian journalist proposed that the foreign press write about a Palestinian university professor who complained that Israeli authorities had turned down his request to visit Israel together with his wife and three children.

The response from the international journalists came almost instantly. All but two said it was a "great story" and expressed readiness to start working on it immediately.
What a pity that the journalists, editors and media outlets are not named.

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