Posts Tagged ‘Rula Jebreal’

Democracy Now Talk to Palestinian Reporter Rula Jebreal about Pro-Israel Bias at MSNBC

May 16, 2016

In this piece from Democracy Now! from 2014, Amy Goodwin and her co-presenter talk to MSNBC’s Rula Jebreal about that channel’s censorship of Palestinian voices and pro-Israel bias. Jebreal is a Palestinian, who grew up in an Israeli orphanage and is married to a Jewish man. She found out that she also has a Jewish sister, through a relationship her mother had with a Jewish man. She states that she also has both Muslim and Christian sides to her family. I think this was fairly common in Palestine and Lebanon, where Christians have formed a sizable minority. The Irish comedian Dave Allen, who was certainly no friend of religion, said in a radio interview about 20 years ago that he played in Lebanon, and there were Christian and Muslim branches of the same families in Lebanese society before the place descended into civil war in the 1980s. So, Jebreal herself comes from a religiously mixed background, and should not be accused of anti-Semitism.

She’s also quite a courageous journalist, having suffered censorship because she dared to ask leading politicians awkward questions. She worked as a broadcast journalist in Berlusconi’s Italy and in Egypt. She was thrown out of Egypt because she dared to ask a minister about his government’s torture of dissidents. In Italy, il Ladro Barone shut down her show after she dared to ask one of his ministers a question about the treatment of immigrants he didn’t want to answer. She was the only person of colour on Italian TV at the time, and the minister concerned went into a foam-flecked rant and her called her ‘n*gger’, or the Italian version of it. He was forced to resign shortly after, but she lost her show.

Which left her all the more confused after she found her speaking dates cancelled by the network after she made the cardinal sin of asking one of the network’s management about their bias in favour of Israel. She raised this topic following the controversy about the network pulling Ayman Mohyeldin, their Palestinian reporter in Gaza, off the air. Mohyeldin had lost his job because he reported a little too much for American media’s comfort during the Israeli bombardment of Gaza. Mohyeldin had seen, and stated on camera that he had seen, four small boys killed by Israeli fire. Indeed, he’d only been playing football with the lads a few minutes before. This was too much for the network heads, who axed Mohyeldin. A public campaign by outraged viewers got Mohyeldin reinstated.

Jebreal raised the issue in an interview with one of the managers, and asked him about the preponderance of people speaking for the Israelis far beyond the number of Palestinians given airtime. She said that if there was a programme about the Israel-Palestine conflict, then the show would have perhaps 45 people all speaking for the Israelis, and a much smaller number, say 11, speaking for the Palestinians. This resulted in Jebreal being taken off air. She states that she doesn’t know if she still had a job, and was genuinely deeply shocked. This was America, where free debate and free speech was supposed to be a vital part of the country’s democratic tradition. It wasn’t supposed to be like Italy or Egypt, the one run by an authoritarian egomaniac, and the other by an overt dictator.

The Young Turks have also had their experience of censorship and biased news at MSNBC, to the point where they don’t consider it to be a liberal network anymore, for all that it is supposed to support the Democrats. This incident also shows the power of the Israeli lobby in America, that it can have journalists censured and the news suppressed when it does not fit the picture that they want to present.

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