Amoula il Majnoona

Amoula's blog from Ramallah

Friday, July 21, 2006

Importantant MEDIA Initiatives

Please do not build the wheel from scratch every time we have to deal with these situations and the media.
Today I am promoting the following group.
They are the first non-profit organization exclusively utilizing major U.S. media outlets to educate and empower communities about underrepresented human rights violations.
They are already active and in place and need our support.
You want to tell mainstream America the truth about what's going on??
Then support them in any way that you can.
See his statement on the site!

And out of Britain, please check out Arab Media Watch for objective British coverage of Arab Issues. (see Victor Kattan's plea at the end of this e-mail)
(yes yes the British media are no better than the Americans in their coverage of the situation....)

Also check out the Institute for Middle East Understanding
Institute for Middle East Understanding provides journalists with quick access to information about Palestine and the Palestinians, as well as expert sources, both in the United States and in Palestine.

And from Electronic Intifada, two stories:
Western Media Fail to Tell the Real Story in Lebanon


Jonathan Cooks analysis of the subtext of the evacuation story though an unpacking of the BBC coverage pasted below.

Also what about the evacuation of the other nationals in Lebanon..... India has sent over 4 navy warships to evacuate their 12,000 nationals..., Turkey, 30,000 Sri Lankans, Dhaka has asked other countries to help as they have at least 10,000 Bangladeshis, also there are 30,000 Filipinos asking other countries to help get their people out.......

Emily Jacir
The racist subtext of the evacuation story
Jonathan Cook, Electronic Lebanon - Thursday, 20 July 2006, 04:36
Israel has opened "windows" for the foreign powers to evacuate their terrified nationals from Lebanon. Obligingly, the foreign media have turned these "windows" into an opportunity to avert their gaze further from the death and destruction in Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank.

On BBC World, for example, we have been following the progress of one 12-year-old British boy fleeing Beirut. When he observed that he was worried for the Lebanese family members he was leaving behind, reporter Clive Myrie noted his was a "very mature attitude".

If only the BBC was demonstrating such maturity.

I have to keep reminding myself that this is BBC World, not its domestic news service. You would hardly know it watching the coverage of the past couple of days.

On Tuesday, when at least 35 Lebanese were killed -- possibly many more as no one seems to know who is lying under the rubble or has been incinerated in their fleeing cars -- we had the BBC's Ben Brown in Beirut giving a blow-by-blow account of every facet of the evacuation of foreign nationals in general and British nationals in particular.

If anyone doubted the racism of our Western media, here it was proudly on display. The BBC apparently considers their Beirut reporter's first duty to find out what meals HMS Gloucester's chef will be preparing for the evacuees. Lebanese and Palestinian civilians die unnoticed by the Western media (though not by the Arab channels) while we learn of onboard sleeping arrangements on the ship bound for Cyprus.

Did we really need to hear a lengthy live speech from the commander of HMS Gloucester telling us how "delighted" he was to be in Beirut? With the long minutes of rolling news to fill this might have been justified had the other minutes been stuffed with reports from the areas where civilians are dying by the dozen each day. But such reports are the mean filling in the thick sandwich of the main story of the evacuees.

In the 4pm GMT broadcast, I watched 45 mins of coverage, most of it dedicated to "live" footage of the British warship's arrival and the relieved faces of the Brits about to leave.

Even so, the BBC still managed to squeeze in other bits of reporting in the lulls in the drama of evacuation. At different points there was a interview from Tel Aviv with former Israeli cabinet minister Yossi Beilin and a live link-up between Ben Brown and Lyse Doucet in Haifa. She informed us of the "barrage" of 50 Katyushas that had landed on northern Israel that day, killing one man. Supportively, Ben Brown, added that there was "shock" at the death and destruction spread by Hizbullah's rockets and opined that what the Israeli army was "really after" was Hizbullah's long-range missiles.

So we had the BBC in Haifa and Beirut speaking with one voice -- that of Israel.

Back in Beirut, Brown repeated with bafflement statements by the British ambassador that some British nationals preferred to stay put for the time being and would not be taking advantage of Israel's "window". It occurred to neither of them that many of these British nationals have loved ones in Beirut and may not want to leave them in the coming desperate hours.

Ben Brown also told us that it was "understandable" that the British evacuees were "pretty scared" because they were not accustomed to this kind of bombing. Not like, he added, war correspondents such as himself or the people of Beirut, who had grown used to such assaults.

The outrageous racism implicit in this comment was clear the moment one paused to consider its possible meanings. Did Brown mean that the Lebanese do not mind being bombed? Did he mean that Lebanese children understand from birth that it is their fate to be attacked by Israel, that they get used to the explosions around them? Did he mean that their parents are less terrified than a British mother and father by the thought that their family might be obliterated at any moment? Or did he mean that Lebanon's civilians will not be as traumatised by their experiences as other human beings would be?

This is the racist subtext of the foreign media's evacuations story. That once the foreigners have been moved to safety, we in the West can leave those who understand only the language violence -- the Israeli army and, apparently, the whole population of Lebanon -- to carry on with their unfinished business.

And we can be sure that this is exactly what will happen as soon as Israel's "window" is shut. When the foreign powers no longer have even a small vested interest in the safety of Beirut, can we expect the coverage to improve? Don't hold your breath.


A plea for solidarity from Victor Kattan:
Dear friends,

I am sure you are all watching the events unfolding in Lebanon which is teetering on the brink of destruction. Muslims and Christians of all sects are suffering from Israel's relentless bombardment of that country. Perhaps many of you feel helpless, that you cannot do anything to stop it? Perhaps you have even signed petitions or forwarded to your friends and colleagues articles written by Robert Fisk and Guardian correspondents? Perhaps you even think the media is doing a good job …?

Well, I have to disappoint you. Everyday I monitor the British tabloids and I can tell you that the coverage is by far pro-Israel. Yes, pro-Israel. Even though hundreds of Lebanese of all faiths are dying in this conflict, it is being justified by many British tabloid editors and columnists, with the noticeable exception of the Daily Mirror which is bucking the trend and reporting the conflict admirably. What really gets to me though are the letters from members of the public. Here we can all do more.

By a rough estimate I would say that the letters are 3-1 in favour of what Israel is doing. People are saying things like the Arabs want to "push the Jews into the sea", Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran want to "destroy Israel", that Israel's response is "proportionate", that the Arabs hate Israel because it is a "democracy". Comments like this are likely to make your blood boil. But there is simply no reason why we cannot change this. We can all write decent, polite and factual letters to the press.

This is important because newspaper editors are always curious to know what the general public thinks of their stance on a particular issue. Now some of you may think why bother with the tabloids. The simply answer is this: outreach. For example, the Sun sells more copies than all of the broadsheets combined. It is not by accident that Tony Blair bends over backwards to accommodate that newspaper. It can shape public opinion. Some of you may say there is no point engaging with the Sun because it is pro-Israel. But we have to start somewhere. Already Arab Media Watch have made contact with the editors. We even persuaded them to send a correspondent to Beirut, which they have done (I even helped him get a taxi).

All I ask is that you join AMW. It is free. Our website is, and a sample of our media interactions is at:
Last year our website was hacked, so we lost a lot of members. In my opinion, we were hacked because we were having an impact. Our website is now more secure. But to make use of our features, such as action alerts, daily press reviews etc. you need to be a member. If you join, please remember to tick the appropriate boxes. We provide all the email addresses for individual journalists as well as the letters pages. If you really want to make an effective difference, this is a good way to do it.

Yesterday evening, Israel bombed Bourj al-Barajneh with 23 tons of explosive. No one mentioned that it is a Palestinian refugee camp. I was there exactly one year ago. It is sad and sickening to see this happen. Nobody is safe from Israel's bombs. But the only way we can change things is by pressuring our politicians to do something – and the best way to do this is through the media.

I would be extremely grateful if you could forward this email to your lists. The more people who join us, the bigger impact we can have on shaping and changing attitudes and prejudices. Now is not a time for bickering about strategies, politics and who started what. This is a time for solidarity.

With sincere regards,

Victor Kattan
Director, Arab Media Watch


Post a Comment

<< Home