Posts Tagged ‘Al Fatah’

CounterPunch’s Alexander Cockburn on Censorship and Abuse for Covering Palestine

May 3, 2016

Alexander Cockburn, one of the writers and publishers of the radical US journal, CounterPunch, described his experience of abuse and censorship in a piece on the Israeli oppression of the Palestinians in the chapter ‘Palestine Down the Decades’ in his and Jeffrey St Clair’s End Times: The Death of the Fourth Estate (Petrolia: CounterPunch/Edinburgh: AK Press 2007) 327-333. He writes

The first time I ever wrote about Palestinians was around 1973, when I was just starting a press column for a New York weekly called the Village Voice. It concerned a story in the New York Times about a “retaliatory” raid by the Israeli air force, after a couple of Al Fatah guerrillas had fired on an IDF unit. I’m not sure whether there were any fatalities. The Israeli planes flew north and dumped high explosive on a refugee camp in Lebanon, killing a dozen or so men, women, and children.

I wrote a little commentary, noting the usual lack of moral disquiet in the Times’ story about this lethal retaliation inflicted on innocent refugees. Dan Wolf, the Voice’s editor, called me in and suggested I might want to reconsider. I think, that first time, the item got dropped. But Dan’s unwonted act of censorship riled me, and I started writing a fair amount about the lot of the Palestinians.

These were the days when Palestinians carried far less news value for editors than Furbish’s lousewort, and no politician ever held that this beleaguered plant didn’t actually exist as a species, which is what Golda Meir, Israel’s prime minister said of Palestinians.

Back then you had to dig a little harder to excavate what Jewish Israelis were actually doing to Palestinians. Lay out the facts about institutionalized racism, land confiscation, torture and a hail of abuse would pour through the mailbox, as when I published a long interview in the Voice in 1980 with the late Israel Shahak, the intrepid professor from Hebrew University. (p. 327).

He then goes on to say that there were plenty of testimony about the Israeli oppression, but very little of it ever got into print. And any suggestion that there was a long term plan to displace the Palestinians was bitterly attacked.

It wasn’t hard to get vivid descriptions of the increasingly intolerable conditions of life for Palestinians: the torture of prisoners, the barriers to the simplest trip, the harassment of farmers and school children, the house demolitions. Plenty of people came back from Israel and the occupied territories with harrowing accounts, though few of them ever made the journey into a major newspaper or onto national TV.

And even in the testimonies that did get published here, what was missing was any
acknowledgement of the long-term plan to wipe the record clean of all troublesome U.N. resolutions, crush Palestinian national aspirations, steal their land and water, cram them into ever smaller enclaves, ultimately balkanize them with the Wall, which was on the drawing board many years ago. Indeed, to write about any sort of master plan was to incur further torrents of abuse for one’s supposedly “paranoid” fantasies about Israel’s bad faith, which much pious invocation of the “peace process”.

But successive Israeli governments did have a long-term plan. No matter who was in power, the roads got built, the water stolen, the olive and fruit trees cut down (a million), the houses knocked over (12,000), the settlements imposed (300), the shameless protestations of good faith issued to the U.S. press (beyond computation).(Pp. 328-9).

We’ve seen a little of how the Israel lobby seeks to silence the country’s critics with the vicious accusations of anti-Semitism levelled at Naz Shah and Ken Livingstone. But they certainly haven’t been alone, as this article shows.