I’m sure that we will have all been shocked and alarmed to learn about the murders of Rabbi Moshe Twersky, 59, Rabbi Aryeh Kupinsky, 43, Rabbi Avraham Shmuel Goldberg, 68, Rabbi Kalman Zeev Levine, 55, and Zidan Nahad Seif, 30, last Tuesday. Any act of violence, especially one against civilians, marks a profound failure of human imagination and causes a deep and abiding trauma for all involved. Such actions only harm the Palestinian cause and so as Palestinian rights activists we have condemn them for that reason too.
However, what has sadly yet predictably been absent from the main-stream media’s reporting of this issue is the context withing which these events occurred – the on-going oppression, humiliation, kidnapping, torture and killing of Palestinians which are rendered invisible by a media which seems to regard such events as not news-worthy. What have we hear about the 14 year old Palestinian American Orwah Hammas, or 21 year old Mohammed Jawabreh both shot and killed recently by the Israeli military? Or 22 year old Khayr al-Din al-Hamdan, a Palestinian citizen of Israel killed by the police? Sadly, such non-reporting of Palestinian deaths is almost too commonplace to be noteworthy.
But perhaps most serious of all is the main-stream media’s non-reporting of the arrest, detention, and torture of Palestinian non-violent protesters. Take the case of Abdallah Abu Rahma. Rahma is a leader of the Bilin Popular Committee, which, since 2005, has led unarmed protests against the separation barrier that cuts the West Bank village off from 50 percent of its land. “In Bilin,” Rahma wrote in a 2010 letter, “we have chosen another way. We have chosen to protest nonviolently together with Israeli and international supporters. We have chosen to carry a message of hope and real partnership between Palestinians and Israelis in the face of oppression and injustice.” Rahma’s wife smuggled the letter out of the jail where he was serving a year-long sentence for “incitement” and organising “illegal demonstrations.” Under Military Order 101, which Israel issued when it took over the West Bank in 1967, an “illegal demonstration” is any gathering of 10 or more Palestinians that involves “a political matter or one liable to be interpreted as political.”
Rahma’s case is not unusual. In 2011, Bassem Tamimi was convicted under Military Order 101 for leading illegal protests in the village of Nabi Saleh, which has seen much of its land handed over to the neighboring settlement of Halamish. Many Palestinians were inspired by Obama’s speech in Cairo in June 2009 in which he referenced Gandhi and Martin Luther King to engage in non-violent direct action against illegal Israeli encroachments on their land and were injured and sometimes killed as a result.
Non-violent protest *is and has always been* the main form of Palestinian resistance to the on-going oppression and dispossession that they experience, but is rendered ineffective as a tool of political change by a main-stream media who simply declines to report on it.
Which is why those within the main-stream media who condemn the murders of Moshe Twersky, Aryeh Kupinsky, Avraham Shmuel Goldberg, Kalman Zeev Levine, and Zidan Nahad Seif really need to take a look in the mirror. Because *by failing to report on and honour the courage and sacrifice of Palestinian non-violent protesters they themselves have created the conditions in which violent protest comes to be seen (by some) as the only viable and effective form of protest possible.*
As some of you will know I regard campaigning against the selective and biased reporting of this issue as a major campaign objective. Because it is just so obvious and self-evident how distorted people’s perception of this issue becomes when, outside of the major bombing campaigns, they are only hearing about Israeli fatalities.
For statistics compiled by Alison Weir on relative fatalities and other
important figures see her web-site ‘If American’s Knew’