MSNBC: Chicago price gouging up 9,000% & the sports-journalization of US media

MSNBC: Chicago price gouging up 9,000% & the sports-journalization of US media

March 25, 2020

By Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

The Chicago Tribune – seemingly the only major newspaper which did not endorse Hillary Clinton in 2016 (they endorsed Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson) – has reported that price gouging in Chicago has skyrocketed a spectacular 9,000% since March 1.

What’s worse, that figure only includes complaints to the city’s Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Department from March 1, excluding the first two months of 2020.

From some it’s a dagger in the heart of perceptions of superior codes of polite conduct in the Midwest. For others it’s verification of all the worst accusations of moral, and especially financial, corruption in the city forever linked in the global imagination with gangster Al Capone.

Now… this is all entirely accurate. I have even presented it with hallowed (and phony/naive) “objectivity”. Nobody can sue me for anything.

But it’s terrible journalism.

It’s eye-catching, newspaper-selling, ratings-grabbing, if-it-bleeds-it-leads journalism. It’s journalism designed to grab eyeballs by inciting panic… and panic is what the West is doing very, very well during the Corona crisis.

The City of Chicago received 175 price gouging complaints so far this month – there were only 2 such complaints all of last year, per The Chicago Tribune. The newspaper’s journalists handled the story ok: only got quotes from the government – nothing from victims, grassroots groups or even vox pops – but it’s not terrible.

Now my headline was rather click bait-y and terrible – irresponsible/negligent use of a colon, certainly. See what I can do if I decide to use my powers for evil rather than good?

Was there an 8,650% increase? Yes. I can say I was, “Just reporting the facts,” which is the ultimate journalistic cop-out. This was exactly the defense used by the reporter in Clint Eastwood’s fine new movie on Atlanta Olympics non-bomber Richard Jewell when confronted by Jewell and his lawyer. MSMers would do the same if you questioned their constant, provoking “Corona death toll reaches ___” headlines.

But even The Chicago Tribune knew better than to phrase this trend that way. Is price gouging a real concern? Yes, and more to me than The Chicago Tribune, judging by the space they gave the story.

But it probably won’t be a concern at all to MSNBC because Illinois is a solidly Democratic state which has no chance of flipping to Trump, and Illinois also has a (billionaire, aristocratic) Democratic governor. The hyper-partisan channel is happy to excuse in Democrats what they shame Republicans for; their editorial line is – ignore blue state malfeasances, attack red states.

(FYI, my headline’s colon is negligent because MSNBC has not reported on this story, and the colon implies that. Should have been a comma.)

I like to read the business sections of the world’s top papers and media when I can – you often find the most serious hard news there – and certainly we all have time off now. I figure it’s either do that or panic. That’s how I found this price gouging story.

I also had time to check out fake-leftist darling/rightly-guided prophet Rachel Maddow’s latest show: she opened with the Spanish ice rink converted to a morgue story, which was the most eye-catching, panic-inducing, if-it-bleeds-it-leads choice possible to start her show.

That was terrible journalism.

In my first article on the corona crisis I quickly got to the point: “The problem in the West is that those in power during the corona crisis should not be in power.”

Maddow, incredibly, has become the Walter Cronkite of seemingly one-third of the US despite constantly evincing atrocious and sensationalistic journalism standards.

In 2018, for fun while on vacation, I wrote a minute-by-minute analysis of one of her shows, which just happened to be about (of course) her one-woman Russophobia campaign: “This was supposed to be a funny article, but when you diagram it out…I rather feel like I just watched Joseph McCarthy at work.”

Why would we assume that instead of McCarthyist red-baiting (and I have more red in my pinky toenail clippings than Maddow has in her whole body) or Russophobia-baiting or Trump-baiting, Maddow isn’t now fine with corona-baiting? Her viewers do not seem to ever ask themselves this fundamental question.

Of course, as many foreigners know: in the US there is no such thing as “propaganda” – that only exists in other countries.

Kudos to Maddow for being a Rhodes Scholar, but that does not make her qualified to be a journalist, and certainly not one holding such a vital position.

Journalists, of course, need no official qualifications. It’s a craft and not a profession – there is no single code of conduct, nor any board to revoke your license as no such license exists. A journalism degree is a nice way to start learning the craft but not necessary (Maddow does not have one), and who on earth would waste their time getting a Master’s in Journalism (except journalism professors)? The US public airwaves are not nationalised, and nearly all privately-owned, so forget about governmental review boards for civil servant journalists.

My irresponsible/negligent use of colons is thus no problem: my colon, my business. And that’s no matter how much confusion I sow. And maybe this is all a problem? But in the “free speech” loving West such ideas are verboten.

From what I can gather Maddow’s only serious daily journalism job was as a local morning radio talk show host. FYI – US morning talk radio is about as serious as the regular flu (although that may now be upgraded to semi-pandemic status). Then she was tapped for hosting a show with a US rapper. I simply don’t observe in her work any solid grounding in the craft of journalism and the importance of its social responsibilities. As I wrote in that article: “As a journalist you can’t make an unproven claim just because you hope the future proves you right.”

CNN’s Anderson Cooper may be a scion of the oligarch Vanderbilt family, and while he did admit to working for the CIA for two summers he has way, way more serious journalistic experience than Maddow: He waited 10-15 minutes before running the Spanish ice morgue story on his show last night.

Not such good politicians, not such good governors, not such good journalists = a really good response to the Corona crisis? That’s pretty funny math.

What’s stunning as well is to see how – even amid what they are telling us is a huge global pandemic which rivals the Spanish Flu of 1918 (even though it clearly does not) – the Western MSM continues to obsess with degrading Donald Trump: in their broadcast media it’s still taking up a huge proportion of their coverage. But how can a daily habit dating from November 2016 be shut off so easily?

Well, journalist, it’s your job to roll with the punches, eh? You should be able to easily transition from a pandemic story to a cat-in-the-tree-rescue story to covering the local high school football game. This is what good journalists can do.

But the MSM doesn’t want good journalists, especially in front of the camera or at the editor’s desk; you do get good journalists writing columns. Newspapers, after all, are a whole different kettle of fish than TV, radio and internet journalism.

There has been a long-running trend in Western journalism: I call it the “sports-journalization of news journalism”. Everything is presented as a dramatic game, or a “war”; statistics (minus analysis and discernment) are paramount; incredibly juvenile attitudes and behaviors are not just considered normal, but expected.

Have you ever dealt with any sports journalists? I have: they are by far the most juvenile, emotionally-stunted people in any newsroom.

They often are gamblers and drunks – how else can you possibly get excited about covering a local high school football game time after time? Of course they are emotionally-stunted: they are covering something which can be fairly called more juvenile than the fashion or (what they used to call the) society pages, and how juvenile are those sections? These guys hope to make it to the big time one day: to stand next to the used jock strap laundry basket while naked men answer questions about why the ball bounced funny that one time.

Don’t give me anecdotal evidence – I know sports journalists who are intelligent, artistic, suave, upstanding people, sure. But if I had a daughter who said she was marrying a sports journalist I’d think: “Well, I should get some free tickets, which are so expensive now due to inflation… but I can’t talk about inflation with this guy: This guy probably only wants to talk about stuff 8-year olds excitedly discuss.”

My point is: in broadcast journalism the journalists who get promoted in the West best apply the absurd, childish dramatics of sports journalism into hard news issues, and especially in the US. France’s media isn’t nearly as bad: they have far more newspapers; they actually have normal-looking people as anchors on the top channels; they have far more state-run channels; they have state subsidies for media to provide some stable revenue. The UK is, of course, terrible and tabloid, but at least they are hilarious.

So of course the US is hyper-partisan, hyper-panicked, hyper-dramatic and hyper-susceptible to things which adults should not be. A sign of adulthood is putting away childish things and acting responsibly on serious issues.

Sports is the ultimate reality TV – yes, we men grasped that first! – but who doesn’t know it’s only an empty-calorie diversion? The sports-journalization of US media, contrarily, has made their hard news an empty-calorie diversion, and this trend diverts the public’s attention into the worst, bloodiest, scariest aspects of the Corona virus situation.

This article from the great website CounterPunch is an extension of my first article on Corona: Starvation, bad water, urban violence, imperialist war – these, and others, kill far, far more innocents annually than Corona: Where has been the panic for those?

Such things often don’t come near to touching the White fake-leftist class in America, which slavishly follows MSNBC. However, Corona might touch them – thus the panic and, above all with them: outrage, outrage, outrage.

If we judge by the Western MSM sports scoreboard (and what’s more capitalist-imperialist than competition?): Western good sense is getting its butt kicked during the Corona crisis.


Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’.

Pilger, Burchett and Assange: Three Extraordinary Australian Journalists That Spoke Truth to Power

By Rick Sterling

Source

Australia has produced extraordinary journalists across three generations:  Wilfred Burchett (deceased in 1983), John Pilger (80 years old but still active) and Julian Assange (48 years old, currently in London’s Belmarsh prison).

Each of these journalists made unique contributions to our understanding of the world. Although Australia is part of the western world, each of these journalists exposed and criticized Western foreign policy.

Wilfred Burchett

Wilfred Burchett lived from 1911 to 1983. He was a farm boy and his experience in the depression shaped his dislike of oligarchs and preference for the poor.  He went to Europe trying to volunteer for Republicans in the Spanish Civil War but that did not work out.  Instead, he assisted Jews escaping Nazi Germany.

Burchett became a journalist by accident. Having seen the reality in Germany, he started writing many letters to newspaper editors. One of the editors took note of his fluid writing style and intensity. They contacted him to ask if he would like to report for them. Thus began a forty year writing career.

He covered WW2, first stationed with British troops in India then Burma. Then he covered the Pacific campaign stationed with U.S. troops.  He was the first international journalist to report on Hiroshima after the atomic bomb. He evaded US military restrictions to go to Hiroshima and see reality for himself. In his story “The Atomic Plague”, published in the London Daily Express, Burchett said,  “I write this as a warning to the world” and “Doctors fall as they work”.   Immediately the US launched a campaign to smear his reputation and deny the validity of his story. The US military was intent on preventing people from knowing the long term effects of nuclear radiation.

Burchett’s report from Hiroshima was broadcast worldwide and called the “scoop of the century”. It exemplified his career based on first-hand observation and experience.

Over his 40 year career, he reported the other side of the story from the Soviet Union, China, Korea and Vietnam. He wrote thousands of articles and over 35 books.  On China, he wrote “China’s Feet Unbound” in 1952. Two decades later he wrote (with Rewi Alley) “China: The Quality of Life”.

Burchett wrote “Vietnam: The Inside Story of a Guerrilla War” (1965) “My War with the CIA: The Memoirs of Prince Norodom Sihanouk”(1974), “Grasshoppers and Elephants: Why Vietnam Fell” (1977) and then “Catapult to Freedom: The Survival of the Vietnamese People” (1978).

Burchett’s life, experiences and observations are brilliantly recorded in his autobiography “At the Barricades: Forty Years on the Cutting Edge of History” (1980). They reveal the hardscrabble youth and early years, the leftist sympathies, the decades of journalistic work based on first-hand observations.

Burchett was vilified by the establishment political leaders in Australia. His Australian passport was taken, the government refused to issue him a new one and he was barred from entering Australia. Even his children were denied their Australian citizenship. Finally, after 17 years, Wilfred Burchett’s citizenship and passport were restored when Gough Whitlam became Prime Minister in 1972.

With his unassuming and affable manner, Wilfred Burchett became friends with leaders such as Ho Chi Minh, Norodom Sihanouk,  and Chou en Lai.   Bertrand Russell said, “One man, Wilfred Burchett, alerted Western public opinion to the nature of this war and the struggle of the Vietnamese people.”

This interview gives a glimpse into the character and personality of Wilfred Burchett.

John Pilger

John Pilger is another extraordinary Australian journalist.  After starting journalism in the early ’60s,  he became a war correspondent covering Vietnam, Cambodia, Bangladesh and Biafra. He worked 25 years at London’s Daily Mirror and then had a regular fortnightly column for 23 years at the New Statesman.

His first documentary, “The Quiet Mutiny”, depicted US soldiers in Vietnam resisting their officers and the war. In 1974, when Palestine was often unmentionable, he produced “Palestine is Still the Issue”. Nineteen years later, he wrote the second part and described how  Palestine is still the issue.

John Pilger has written/edited over ten books and made over 50 films. He told the story of atrocities in Pol Pot’s Cambodia with “Year Zero“.  He exposed Indonesia’s stranglehold on East Timor in “Death of a Nation: The Timor Conspiracy”.  In a four year investigation, he showed how working-class victims of the drug thalidomide had been excluded from a settlement with the drug company.

John Pilger exposed uncomfortable truths about his home country and its treatment of aboriginal people. He did this through films including “The Secret Country: First Australians Fight Back” (1985),  “Welcome to Australia” (1999), and “Utopia: An Epic Story of Struggle and Resistance” (2013).  He gives more history and detail in the book “A Secret Country” (1992).

In 2002 Pilger produced and movie and book titled “The New Rulers of the World”  revealing the grotesque inequality in this “globalized” world where a few individuals and corporations have more power and wealth than entire countries.

In 2016 Pilger came out with the urgent and prescient video “The Coming War with China”.

More recently he produced “The Dirty War on the NHS” which documents the stealth campaign to privatize the UK’s National Health System. Many of John Pilger’s films can be seen at his website johnpilger.com .

In the 1960s and ’70s, Pilger’s brave and bold journalism received many awards and he was twice recognized as Journalist of the Year.  But in recent years, there has been less acceptance as media has become more homogenized and controlled.  In 2018 Pilger said“My written journalism is no longer welcome – probably it’s last home was The Guardian, which three years ago got rid of people like me and others in pretty much a purge …”  

Harold Pinter, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, says “John Pilger unearths, with steely attention, the facts, the filthy truth. and tells it like it is.

Julian Assange

The third extraordinary Australian journalist is Julian Assange. He was born on 3 July 1971.  He became a skilled computer programmer and hacker as a teenager. Later he later studied mathematics and physics at Melbourne University. According to one of his math teachers he was an exceptional student but he clearly had other tasks and priorities.

Assange has edited or co-authored at least four books. For three years he worked with Australian journalist and co-author Suelette Dreyfus to write “Underground : Tales of Hacking, Madness and Obsession in the Electronic Frontier”.  First published in 1997, the Sydney Morning Herald called it “astonishing”. Rolling Stone described it as “An entirely original focus on the bizarre lives and crimes of an extraordinary group of teenage hackers.” 

In 2012, Assange produced the TV series “The World Tomorrow”. Over 12 segments, he interviews Ecuador President Rafael Correa, the current President of Pakistan Imran Khan, the leader of Hezbollah Hasan Nasrallah, leaders in the Occupy movement, Noam Chomsky, Tariq Ali and many more.

In 2013, Assange and WikiLeaks produced the movie Mediastan. It shows WikiLeaks’ global travels to meet publishers of the secret documents.  In 2014 OR Books published “When WikiLeaks met Google”. It consists of a discussion between Julian Assange and Google founder Eric Schmidt plus two companions. Assange writes a 51-page introduction which puts the discussion in context: how Google and other internet giants have become part of  US foreign policy establishment.

In 2015 Assange edited “The WikiLeaks files: the world according to the US Empire” and in 2016 the book “Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet” was published. Assange and three other computer experts discuss the future of the internet and whether computers will emancipate or enslave us. One reviewer says, “These guys are really getting at the heart of some very big issues that practically no one (outside of Cypherpunk circles) is thinking about.”

But what makes Assange extraordinary is his work as editor in chief and publisher of WikiLeaks.  Following are a few examples of information they have conveyed to the public:

* Corruption by family and associates of  Kenyan leader Daniel Arap Moi.

* Corruption at Kaupthing Bank in the Iceland financial crisis

* Dumping of toxic chemicals in Ivory Coast.

* Killing of  Reuters journalists and over 10 Iraqi civilians by US Apache attack helicopter in “Collateral Murder” video.

* 92,000 documents on the war in Afghanistan (and civilian casualties previously hidden)

* 400,000 documents on the war in Iraq (including reports showing the US military ignoring torture by their Iraqi allies)

* corruption in Tunisia (helping spark the Arab Spring)

* NSA spying on German leader Merkel, Brazilian leader Roussef, French presidents (Sarkozy, Hollande, Chirac) and more.

* secret agreements in the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership

* emails and files from the US Democratic National Committee

* CIA spying and other tools  (“Vault 7”).

Julian Assange has received much recognition: Sam Adams Award, Time’s Person of the Year, Le Monde Person of the Year,  Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, Sydney Peace Foundation Gold Medal, Serena Shim Award and others.

But Assange has incurred the wrath and enmity of the US government. The “Collateral Damage” video and war logs exposed the brutal reality of US aggression and occupation.  Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations, said the US invasion of Iraq violated international law. But there has been no accountability.

In response to WikiLeaks’ revelations, the United States has ignored the crimes and gone after the messenger who revealed the crimes. Thus Julian Assange was confined to the Ecuador Embassy for 7 years and is now in Belmarsh maximum-security prison.  The US wants him extradited to the US where he has been charged with 18 counts of  “Illegally Obtaining, Receiving and Disclosing Classified Information”.  The extradition hearing is scheduled to begin on 24 February 2020.

Across Three Generations

Australia should be proud of these exceptional native sons. Each one has made huge contributions to educating the public about crucial events.

Wilfred Burchett reported from the “other side” when the West was waging war on Korea, Vietnam, Laos, and China. He was demonized and even called “Public Enemy Number One” during the Cold War.  But those who read his reports and many books found an accurate and objective writer. His many books stand the test of time.

From the 60s to today, John Pilger has told stories that were never or rarely told.  He has exposed facts and drawn conclusions which shame or should shame powerful forces, whether in the U.K., U.S.A. or Australia. He has documented the real heroes who are otherwise ignored.

Julian Assange is from the new generation. He has reported and published secret information about military-political power on “this side”. He has revealed truths that powerful forces do not want the public to know, even when it is being done in their name.

Now Assange is in prison and in danger of being extradited to the United States. If this is allowed to happen, it will mark a crushing setback and perhaps the death of independent investigative journalism.

John Pilger is a major supporter of Julian Assange. So is the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer. In a blockbuster interview, he says “I have never seen a comparable case….The Swedish authorities … intentionally left him in limbo. Just imagine being accused of rape for nine-and-a-half years by an entire state apparatus and the media without ever being given the chance to defend yourself because no charges have ever been filed.” He goes to describe reading the original Swedish documents, saying “I could hardly believe my eyes…. a rape had never taken place at all…. the woman’s testimony was later changed by the Stockholm police… I have all the documents in my possession, the emails, the text messages.”  

Melzer describes the refusal of governments to comply with his requests. He sums up what is happening and the significance. “A show trial is to be used to make an example of Julian Assange….. Four democratic countries joined forces – the U.S., Ecuador, Sweden, and the U.K. – to leverage their power to portray one man as a monster so that he could be later burned at the stake without any outcry. The case is a huge scandal and represents the failure of Western rule of law. If Julian Assange is convicted, it will be a death sentence for freedom of the press.”

The three extraordinary Australian journalists were all rebels and all international. They all depended on freedom of the press which is now at stake.

GOLAN-JERUSALEM: ROBBERY OF THE CENTURY BY TWO CLOWNS UNDER TRIAL

 

The biggest problem in the world are journalists.

Many of whom work for editorial groups financed by multinationals that aspire to control the planet, others are really incapable and serve to support the same project, some of the best remain confined to talk-show that appear more like gossip broadcasts rather than real insights into journalism of inquiry.

Next to them there are very few characters, Max Blumenthal of GrayZone is certainly one of these, who try to challenge the logic of the mainstream every so often they succeed. Still others have fallen into battle trying to fight what, after a public admission by a former CIA director, I have called Deep International State.

Among these was the Italian Mauro di Mauro, who vanished while he was investigating the death of Enrico Mattei, former president of the italian National Hydrocarbons Authority (ENI), who died in a mysterious plane crash like his friend Dag Hammarskjold, UN general secretary still awaiting justice after 58 years for dossiers secreted by the United Kingdom.

There was Mino Pecorelli, believed by the Carabinieri general Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa, also killed by the Mafia, sentenced to death for his knowledge of the P2 covered lodge and above all on the secrets about the imprisonment and killing of the Christian Democrat politician Aldo Moro, kidnapped and killed by the terrorists of the Red Brigades in 1978.

We cannot forget Mauro Rostagno who was assassinated while in Trapani he was investigating the report on the Masonic lodges of the Centro Scontrino, the Mafiosi of Cosa Nostra and the military secret services with ties to Stay Behind, the US paramilitary operation in Italy.

In more recent times it is worth mentioning Lasantha Wickrematunge, the Sri Lankan journalist killed in an ambush while he was investigating some government politicians about some suspected arms supplies from the United Kingdom. And finally Jamal Kashoggi, Islamic columnist of the Washington Post torn to pieces in the consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul.

Just because many journalists have been sold or repaid, representatives of two world powers such as the US and Israel can make people believe they are serious while they are gambling on the table of international provocations.

If we were in a world at least a little serious, at least half of the journalists would have burst out laughing when American President Donald Trump together with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented his Deal of the Century.

The project is quickly summarized in a few words: to recognize the Palestinian Territories as a State in order to certify Israel’s annexation of the Golan stolen from Syria together with a slice of Jerusalem destined to become the capital of the Zionist state with good peace of Muslims.

The Palestinians, however, would also be allowed to make a tunnel between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to maintain continuous and uninterrupted connections, at least until some Mossad secret service agent will be given orders to place a bomb in the middle of the underground passage.

Let’s face it: Monty Python would not have been able to study a better screenplay for a show that would only be comical if the bombings that Israel and the USA, whenever they want, continue to do in the Middle East were not involved.

Only the idiots, like many hired Western journalists, can believe the conditional proposal to recognize Palestine as a state only in the face of the possibility of claiming a dominance over Jerusalem and, above all, to legitimize the robbery of the Golan, with its precious waters of the underground and its strategic position, to the detriment of Syria by President Bashar Al Assad that the Israeli Defense Forces army did everything to destroy together with the USA.

The disgusted response of Muslims is inevitable.

“Jerusalem is not for sale, and our rights are not bartered.” Palestinian President Abu Mazen said so, rejecting the peace plan announced today by US President Donald Trump. Trump’s plan “is aggressive and will provoke a lot of anger.”

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the Israeli part of the Plan “does not make sense”, Reuters told Israeli media. “Jerusalem – he continued – will always be a land for the Palestinians. The Palestinians will face this Plan and Jerusalem will always remain a Palestinian land”.

Trump’s plan is “doomed to failure”. So Iran rejects the American President’s proposal without appeal for peace in the Middle East between Israelis and Palestinians. “The shameful American plan imposed on the Palestinians is the betrayal of the century and is doomed to failure,” the foreign ministry said in a statement. The Lebanese Shiite allies of Tehran, Hezbollah, along the same lines, according to which the Trump plan is “an attempt to eliminate the rights of the Palestinian people”.

What makes the farce of the White House plan really comical is the situation in which the two allies who propose it find themselves.

Trump under trial in the Senate for an Impeachment on the conditioning of Ukraine, Netanyahu, still in the role of prime minister in extension for the failure of two parliamentary elections in Tel Aviv unable to give a majority to the Knesset, is formally indicted for various episodes of bribery.

Two politicians hovering over the abyss of electoral defeat, Netanyahu in the elections of March 3, 2020 and Trump in those of November 3 of the same year, try to win consensus by proposing the impossible to Palestinians on the skin of Syria.

More than the Deal of the Century, as defined by the tenant of the White House, the attempted robbery of the century appears to give Israel the Golan plateau in defiance of the last UN pronouncement, peremptory in reiterating that that area must go back to Syria where it belongs.

It would be a dangerous robbery. But above all it becomes grotesque and ridiculous because invented by two politicians at risk of defeat in their respective countries where they are under investigation. Two shameless clowns in the service of Deep International State.


By Fabio Giuseppe Carlo Carisio
Source: Gospa News

Syrian Journalist Wafaa Shabrouni Wounded by Erdogan Terrorists in Idlib

January 29, 2020 Miri Wood

Wafaa Shabrouni RT Arabic Syria وفاء شبروني سورية
Wafa’a Shabrouni severely wounded by NATO weaponry via Erdogan’s terrorists.

Wafaa Shabrouni, Syrian journalist for RT, was seriously wounded in newly liberated Maarat al Numan, Idlib countryside. She and her crew came under attack while reporting on the Syrian Arab Army’s military campaign against the remaining Erdogan-run mercenaries and other al Qaeda factions.

Shabrouni was taken to the Hama State Hospital for surgery to remove shrapnel from her face and her jaw.

Wafaa Shabrouni RT Arabic Syria وفاء شبروني سورية
Wafaa Shabrouni, Syrian journalist for RT Arabic.

Also at the time of this writing, there have been no reports from western media about the wounding of Shabrouni by NATO armed savages.

This history of Syrian journalists being kidnapped and murdered by the terrorists dates back to the early days of the crisis. The journalist martyrs got little or no western news coverage; how could they, given western reporters are NATO stenographers who support the murderers armed by NATO countries.

In August 2011, TV journalist Yara Saleh was abducted by members of the moderate criminals, the FSA, who moderately murdered a member of her crew.

femicide -TV journalist Yara al Saleh & her crew were rescued by the SAA.
TV journalist Yara al Saleh & her crew were rescued by the SAA.

Syrian journalist Maya Nasser was murdered by a moderate FSA sniper, while reporting live on PressTV, from Damascus, 26 September 2012.

Yara Abbas was martyred when her Ikhbariya TV crew was fired upon also by moderate FSA snipers, while covering the advances of the Syrian Arab Army, on 27 May 2013 (coincidentally, this was the weekend American illegal John McCain was meeting with kidnappers and cohorts of al Nusra in Syria.).

Yara Abbas
Martyr Yara Abbas, Syria’s Ikhbariya TV Reporter

Khaled al Khatib was on assignment with RT TV, covering Syrian Arab Army operations in the eastern countryside of Homs, when his crew was hit by an anti-tank missile, 30 July 2017. He was martyred immediately.

al-khatib
Syrian journalist Khaled al Khatib, martyred 30 July 2017.
khartabil
Khaled al Khatib’s mom carries her son’s coffin.

Less than one month later, 26 August 2017, soldier-journalist Mohammad Salman Nasser was martyred in the southern countryside of Raqqa. He was both defending his homeland from NATO terrorists, and reporting on the SAA operations.

nato-terrorists
Soldier-journalist, Mohammad Salman Naser, 1982-2017.
Soldier-journalist Mohammad Salman Naser with his family

On 8 March 2018, Syrian journalist Hassan Ali Badran was martyred by NATO armed terrorists in al Ghouta, prior to the liberation of the suburb of Damascus, by the Syrian Arab Army.

alghouta
Hassan Ali Badran.
Hassan leans over the coffin of his father, Brig. Gen. Ali Badran, martyred in Harasta.

There is a well-respected, allegedly impartial, New York City based NP/NGO, that claims to support “press freedom and defends the rights of journalists.” It is the Committee to Protect Journalists, and its massive, colonialist bias is seen on its website. Type in all of these names of Syrian journalists martyred or wounded in their home country. Some are not mentioned; some have a burp. Then, use the site to search any of the illegal westerners killed in Syria, those masquerading as journalists or actual journalists — such as illegal Marie Colvin — and you will find kilometers and kilometers of reports.

Wafaa Shabrouni is reported to be in stable condition.

— Miri Wood

Blinded Palestinian Journalist Exposes Israel’s Increasing Violence Against Media

Muath Amarneh Feature photo

Blinded Palestinian Journalist Exposes Israel’s Increasing Violence Against Media

On November 15, Palestinian photojournalist Muath Amarneh covered a demonstration in Surif, a West Bank city where residents were protesting against the theft of their land by Israeli settlers. Wearing a press jacket and helmet, Amarneh was shot in the head by an Israeli bullet while taking pictures on a nearby hill — about 330 feet from the soldiers.

“Everything just changed. I felt the whole world was circling around me. And I felt my whole life flash before me. I felt like I was dying,” Amarneh said, describing his reaction when hit.

With blood dripping from his eye, Amarneh was taken to a hospital in Hebron, West Bank. He was eventually transported to Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem where his left eye was removed. He remains there awaiting further operations to have the bullet removed from his head. 

Videos and photos capturing Amarneh after the bullet pierced his eye went viral online. Using the hashtags #MuathEye#EyeofTruth and #MuathAmarneh, “journalists across the world posted images of themselves with an eyepatch or one hand over their eye as a way to stand in solidarity with Amarneh.

Increasing Israeli violations against Palestinian press

After being shot, Israeli soldiers rushed to Amarneh claiming he wasn’t hit by one of their bullets but rather with stones thrown by protesters, but Amarneh was behind a line of demonstrators hurling stones.

“The army told me that, “This is not from us. This is from the people who are protesting and throwing stones. It’s the Palestinian who threw stones at you. It’s not a bullet from us,” Amarneh said.

Israeli police said they used “non-lethal means” to “disperse the rioters.” “The use of the non-lethal means was not directed at all at the photographer, and his injury could have been caused by the violent rioters,” Micky Rosenfeld, the Israeli police’s foreign press spokesperson, said.

Palestinian journalists take cover from tear gas shot by Israeli police during a solidarity protest on November 17, 2019 in Bethlehem. Photo | Musa Al-Shaer

However, Amarneh believes he was directly attacked by Israeli forces.

Four days before Amarneh lost his eye, Omar al-Badawi was fatally shot by Israeli soldiers during clashes near Hebron. Video captured al-Badawi as he was shot in the chest by Israeli forces. Soldiers claimed they assumed al-Badawi was carrying a molotov cocktail, but he was merely holding a towel to extinguish a fire engulfing a tree near his home. Amarneh was one of the journalists who documented al-Badawi’s murder.

“After what happened, the Israeli army really doesn’t want journalists to show the world what’s going on,” Amarneh said. He feels that since al-Badawi’s killing was broadcast globally, the Israeli army is intensifying its crackdown on Palestinian journalists. He mentioned how an area in Bethlehem designated for journalists for years by the Israeli military is now an unwelcome location.

“This Thursday, they started telling journalists that if you stay in this place, we will arrest you,” Amarneh said, describing how the soldiers pushed the journalists and seized their cameras.

The following Sunday after Amarneh was shot, Palestinian journalists held a sit-in in Bethlehem to express their support. Israel Police dispersed the crowd using tear gas, with dozens of demonstrators suffocating from tear gas inhalation and seven individuals lightly wounded.

Israeli polcie grab a member of The Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate during a solidarity protest on November 17, 2019, in Bethlehem. Photo | Musa Al-Shaer

On Wednesday, the Israeli army closed the office of Palestine Television in Jerusalem for six months after storming Al-ArzMedia Services Company which provides services to Palestine TV.

Mousa Rimawi, Director General of the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA), believes the Israeli army targeted Amarneh.

“I think they are targeting him. Witnesses say that. He said that. This is not the first time they are targeting journalists,” Rimawai said.

We saw it in Gaza, especially last year. When the Israeli army was targeting journalists, killing two of them and injuring tens of journalists by snipers.”

In 2018, Palestinian journalists Yasser Murtaja and Ahmad Hassan Abu Hussein were killed by Israeli snipers just one week apart from each other while covering the Great March of Return protests at the Gaza border.

According to The Palestinian Center Development and Media Freedoms (MADA), 455 Israeli violations and 129 Palestinian violations occurred against Palestinian journalists in 2018  — a more than 52 percent increase in the last two years. During the first half of 2019, 330 violations were documented against Palestinian media  — a 19 percent increase from the same period last year. The majority of these violations comprise physical abuse, arrests or detentions, questioning, preventing coverage and shutting down websites and social media accounts.

Palestinian journalists

Palestinian journalists help a colleague injured during a solidarity protest on November 17, 2019 in Bethlehem. Photo | Musa Al-Shaer

“They want to silence this media who is covering the events relating to the Israeli occupation and to cover their crimes and daily practices in Palestine,” Rimawi said.

The Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate (PJS) places the number of violations in 2019 higher, at more than 630, with 90 percent of reported attacks executed by Israel. Musa Al-Shaer, a board member of PJS, said MADA’s calculation is lower because they adjust the statistics in order to receive financial aid from the international community.

 

Facebook’s censorship of Palestinian media

Of the 330 documented violations by MADA, 65 of them were committed by Facebook. In 2016, the Israeli government and Facebook announced they were working together to combat incitement on social media. The driving force behind this partnership was Israel’s accusation that Palestinian violence is fueled by incitement online.

“After that announcement, Facebook began to block Palestinian sites for journalists and media outlets,” Rimawi said. He explained that Facebook has adopted Israel’s definition of incitement when deciding what content to censor. But going by Israel’s standards poses a problem for Palestinians.

“If someone posts a picture of a martyr, that’s incitement for Israelis, but for Palestinians that is normal. You could be posting a picture of your cousin who is a martyr,” Rimawi said.

Palestinians call those who died resisting the Israeli occupation “martyrs”, while Israelis refer to them as terrorists. He mentioned that words like Hamas (which literally translates to excitement in Arabic) and Qassam, the name of the military wing of Hamas, are consistently flagged. In some instances, a person named Qassam might end up with a deactivated Facebook account.

Facebook censorship of Palestinian media is increasing, and Israel appears to be the one steering the wheel. In 2017, 85 percent of Israeli government requests to “remove content deemed harmful or dangerous” was approved.

“We know Israel is pressuring other social media sites like Instagram and Twitter, but there are no agreements between them and Israel,” Rimawi said. “But with Facebook there is.”

 

Paving the way for Palestinian freedom of press

Amid a sharp rise in violations against Palestinian journalists, MADA is working with other civil society organizations to build a coalition to defend freedom of expression and digital freedom in Palestine. The coalition plans to tackle legislation, government policies, monitoring press freedom, Israeli violations and Facebook restrictions.

“It’s a good thing when people will not be silent, when countries will not be silent when there’s killing of journalists. But it must be linked with policies,” Rimawi said.

Muath Amarneh

Palestinian photojournalist Muath Amarneh lies injured in his hospital bed in Jerusalem. Photo | Delilah Boxstein

Amarneh has frequently experienced Israeli abuse in his ten years of working as a journalist. He was previously shot multiple times by rubber bullets on the lower parts of his body and fired at by water cannons. But this recent attack was the most severe.

Amarneh is currently focused on his recovery but asserts he will seek legal action when he is healed. Despite the trauma of losing his eye, he still plans to continue reporting.

“I won’t stop being a journalist but now I feel unsafe,” Amarneh said. “They could attack my other eye. It will be harder for me to continue what I am doing.”

Feature photo | Palestinian photojournalist Mu’ath Amarneh, seated on the left, moments after being shot in the left eye by an Israeli soldier in Surif, West Bank on November 15, 2019. Photo | Palestinian Information Center

LONDON’S ‘MEDIA FREEDOM’ CONFERENCE SMACKS OF IRONY: CRITICS BARRED, NO MENTION OF JAILED ASSANGE

In Gaza

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Kirill Vyshinsky: Imprisoned over 1 year in Ukraine, a journalist who *should* have been highlighted at the “Media Freedom” conference but was not.

July 15, 2019, RT.com
Irony is the word which comes to mind at the mention of the “Global Conference for Media Freedom” co-hosted by the UK and Canadian foreign ministers. Everything about this twilight zone gathering smacked of irony.

Irony that governments which support terrorists in Syria and whitewash Israeli murders of Palestinian journalists have the gall to hold a conference feigning concern for journalists’ rights and media freedom.

Irony that journalists actually suffering persecution and unjust imprisonment –like Kirill Vyshinsky and Julian Assange – were not the focus of the conference, with Assange only mentioned in passing, and Vyshinsky, presumably, not at all.

Irony most of all that a conference — according to Global Affairs Canada, an “international campaign to shine a global spotlight on media freedom…”– refused participation of two major and sought-out media outlets, both Russian: RT and Sputnik.

Organizers apparently tried to claim the reason for the exclusion was simply that they’d met their quota of journalists attending. But they didn’t maintain the lie to Western media, RT London correspondent Polly Boiko noted:

Behind our backs other news channels got a very different message: ‘We have not accredited RT or Sputnik because of their active role in spreading disinformation.’”

Former Guardian Chief Foreign Correspondent Jonathan Steele called the exclusion of RT and Sputnik a “disgrace”, also stating:

I think they’re trying to isolate RT and imply that it’s not a genuine broadcaster in the hope that British people and others around the world who watched RT International won’t continue to watch it.

The irony –yet again– is that Russia isn’t doing the same, isn’t isolating Western media.

Russia-based journalist Bryan MacDonald tweeted:

It’s like the world has turned on its head. Moscow is literally paying people to translate Western media into Russian (see @RT_InoTV). But the UK is in a panic about Russian outlets, even running covert operations, such as “Integrity Initiative,” to “combat” a perceived threat.”

Even the Committee to Protect Journalists expressed concern at the UK’s exclusion of RT and Sputnik.

From the feedback on the UK Foreign Office tweet featuring CNN’s Christiane Amanpour about

reporting the truth”, it was refreshing to see that many saw this charade for what it was, calling it Orwellian, and noting that Britain is “torturing journalist Julian Assange as it uses @CAmanpour to produce propaganda claiming it cares about media freedom.

I couldn’t help chiming in, noting Amanpour’s exploitation of a Syrian child in order to demonize Russia.

Eva Bartlett

@EvaKBartlett

Theatre of the absurd. Truthful? Amanpour waved photo of Omran Daqneesh in face of Lavrov & essentially accused Russia of airstriking boy’s home. Boy’s dad told me no airstrike. It was fake news. https://www.mintpressnews.com/mintpress-meets-father-iconic-aleppo-boy-says-media-lied-son/228722/ 
Did Amanpour bother apologizing for her propaganda? Nope. https://twitter.com/foreignoffice/status/1148864435194347520 

MintPress Meets The Father Of Iconic Aleppo Boy, Who Says Media Lied About His Son

MintPress sat down with the father of the now-infamous Aleppo boy, Omran Daqneesh. Omran’s father, Mohammad Daqneesh, says his son was exploited by Syrian rebels and the media for political gain.,…

mintpressnews.com

Foreign Office 🇬🇧

@foreignoffice

‘Our job is to report the truth. It is not to be neutral, it is to be truthful’ @camanpour explains the vital role that journalists play in society. #DefendMediaFreedom

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The UK conference isn’t the first example of an international event hosting regime-change media while excluding critical media.

Earlier this year, when the Lima Group was meeting in Canada to discuss the self-proclaimed non-president, Juan Guaido, Canada likewise denied accreditation to Telesur and Russian media.

Global Affairs Canada alleged at the time there would be “reciprocal action against Canadian media in Russia.

However, Bryan MacDonald told me: “Any that wish can operate in Russia. There are no restrictions.”

Indeed, a perusal of the Twitter accounts of CBC and Radio Canada journalists shows they’ve continued reporting from Russia months since Canada’s allegation of reciprocal action.

Which outlets did Canada give access to during the Lima meeting? CNN, Univision, Voice of America, Al Jazeera, CBC, CTV, Global, and La Presse, among other regime-change networks.

Telesur noted at the time of the Canadian block:

The government did not provide any reasoning for the denial of Lima Group meeting access, but has recently been called out for limiting press freedom within the country based on the preferences of its government.

Sound familiar?

A regime change conference

The UK conference seems to have been a who’s who of terrorist and extremist supporters and journalists who whitewash their crimes. Or, as a Canadian journalist who attended put it, the conference was:

Meetings behind closed doors. Barring certain people from a press conference. Letting only hand-picked journalists ask questions. Here’s how Canada’s “media freedom” conference went down.

Andrew Lawton

@AndrewLawton

Meetings behind closed doors. Barring certain people from a press conference. Letting only hand-picked journalists ask questions. Here’s how Canada’s “media freedom” conference went down. https://tnc.news/2019/07/11/lawton-media-freedom-conference-pays-lip-service-to-press-freedom/ 

LAWTON: Media freedom conference pays lip service to press freedom – True North News

Canadian and British governments demonstrated they’re more interested in a glossy show of support for press freedom without conducting themselves in a way that fosters it.

tnc.news

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That same journalist noted,
only two pre-selected Canadian journalists were permitted to ask questions of Freeland and Hunt at a brief media availability on the first day of the conference. Media were not allowed in the room for what may have been the most consequential part of the conference, a session with government representatives from around the world on “how to sustain the impact of the (Defend Media Freedom) campaign after the conference.

Present were the BBC, CNN, and CBC, among others. Although these outlets have all systematically churned out disinformation on Syria and Russia, they were presented as truthful authorities on ‘media freedom.’

The BBC dubs itself “the most trusted international news broadcaster.” This lofty claim is easily debunked when looking at the BBC’s history of war propaganda on Syria, including its 2013, “Saving Syria’s Children”, a report which Robert Stuart has doggedly investigated, revealing its falsehoods.

Or the time the BBC used Italian photojournalist Marco Di Lauro‘s photo from Iraq to claim it was Houla, Syria.

beeb

As I wrote before, “Upon demand of the aghast journalist, the claim was later retracted and corrected, an “accident”…but who was listening by that point?”

Or that time the BBC’s Middle East specialist asserted a viral video was in a “regime” area of Syria –because of the “Syrian army flag” painted on a barrel– when the clip was filmed in Malta by Norwegians, and the barrel was painted with an out-of-sequence attempt at replicating Syria’s flag.

expert

But more telling about the BBC’s trustworthiness is the fact that, according to the Canary, “The UK Conservative government appoints the chair of the BBC board and its four national directors.”

Pegged as a Venezuelan investigative reporter, Luz Mely Reyes was invited to the conference. Reyes advocates for non-president Juan Guaido and is cheer-led by Western media gatekeepers like TIME and the Guardian. She was thus, indeed, a perfect guest for the regime-change conference.

Syrian participants included exclusively pro-regime-change journalists, such as:

-Karam Nachar, a “cyber-activist working with Syrian protesters via social media platforms,” according to his bio on Democracy Now, where, as with other regime-change supporters, he has appeared frequently arguing the case for western intervention.

-Wa’ad Al Khatib, promoted before Aleppo’s liberation in 2016 as an independent filmmaker. Her clips were featured by none other than the UK’s Channel 4, one of the worst offenders in war propaganda on Syria.

The irony is that Wa’ad al-Khatib was slated to speak about the role of local journalists with respect to international media coverage of areas. But she,like so many other darlings of Western corporate media, reported fully embedded in terrorist areas, clearly with the permission and approval of terrorists.

Chairing panels on safety and protection of journalists was none other than Sky News’ Alex Crawford. In June, Crawford was seen embedded with al-Qaeda in Idlib, as were CBS journalists, both teams presumably having entered Syria illegally.

One could muse that Crawford’s safety advice was: pay up to al-Qaeda and you’ll be fine moving alongside terrorists.

A panel on “Navigating Disinformation” was chaired by Chrystia Freeland – known for her allegiances to the Ukrainian authorities and the bloody coup that brought them to power, to the Venezuelan coup-plotters and to the White Helmets of al-Qaeda– not exactly the most neutral or balanced person to moderate.

Fake Concern For Journalists; No Mention Of Assange, Kirill Vyshinsky

Glaringly absent from the agenda was the issue of Julian Assange, held at Belmarsh prison a short drive away.

John McEvoy@jmcevoy_2

This is the distance between the UK’s ‘defend media freedom’ event and Belmarsh prison. Julian Assange can probably smell the hypocrisy from his cell.

View image on Twitter
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the UK conference is happening at the same time that Julian Assange’s extradition papers are being signed by the UK.

On July 10, the first day of the conference, Hunt stated that countries that restrict media freedom must be made to pay a diplomatic price, saying:

If we act together we can shine a spotlight on abuses and impose a diplomatic price on those who’d harm journalists or lock them up for doing their jobs.

This from the Foreign Secretary of a government which is

holding journalist Julian Assange behind bars pending a US extradition hearing for exposing American war crimes.

When challenged by Ruptly journalist Barnaby Nerberka on Assange, in contrast to his lofty words on the previous day, Hunt said nothing.

Barnaby Nerberka@barnabynerberka

Jeremy Hunt refuses to answer my questions on the plight of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and the banning of Russian media from the ‘media freedom conference’

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Ukrainian-Russian journalist Kirill Vyshinsky was not featured in spite of having been unjustlydetained by Ukraine for 14 months now, a glaring violation of media freedom.

Russia in Canada

@RussianEmbassyC

🇷🇺 journalist Kirill Vyshinsky is imprisoned in accused of “high treason” for doing his job

🇨🇦 🇬🇧 so-called forum ignores his show trial & similar cases of attacks on , incl. @OSCE_RFoM condemned ban on Russian journalists accreditation

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter
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Likewise, certainly absent was mention of Syrian journalist Khaled al-Khatib, killed in 2017 by ISIS (IS/Islamic State, formerly ISIL), or of any of theSyrian and allied journalists murdered by jihadists before he was.

The UK Foreign Office made the mistake of tweeting about the risk of “torture, disappearances and death,” in Eastern Ukraine.

Ukrainian journalist Sergey Belous, kidnapped by Ukrainian armed forces in 2014, corrected him.

Foreign Office 🇬🇧

@foreignoffice

In the non-government controlled areas of Eastern Ukraine, journalists risk torture, disappearances and death.

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Sergey Belous@Belous_SR

Ha-ha-ha! Where you’ve been when I (war reporter, working as stringer for Ukrainian 112 chanel) was kidnapped by Ukrainian armed forces in 2014? Hypocrites! Stop spreading lies! What’s about or , for example?

See Sergey Belous’s other Tweets
Likewise, Mark Sleboda called BS, noting the over 20 journalist killed by “the militant forces & brownshirt paramilitary ‘batallions’ of the new regime.”

Clearly, the grandiose words of foreign ministers Hunt and Freeland apply only to journalists supporting regime change, not those targeted by allied governments and their terrorists.

After the Censorship  Conference

On Saturday, I read that a popular Ukrainian TV channel was attacked with a grenade launcher on the day an Oliver Stone documentary on Ukraine was to be aired.

Ivan Katchanovski@I_Katchanovski

It would be revealing reaction of new president @ZelenskyyUa to such undemocratic and illiberal actions of political appointees of Poroshenko regime and far right against US documentary that they have not seen and against freedom of the press & expression in .

Ivan Katchanovski@I_Katchanovski

Popular TV channel is shelled from grenade launcher in order to prevent its broadcast today of US by @TheOliverStone. It would reveal involvement of snipers in Maidan massacre. Would there be any reaction from US government? https://112.ua/glavnye-novosti/v-noch-na-13-myulya-dvoe-neizvestnyh-iz-granatometa-obstrelyali-zdanie-112-kanala-499728.html 

Здание телеканала 112 Украина обстреляли из гранатомета

Полицейские квалифицируют происшествие как террористический акт

112.ua

295 people are talking about this

“Any reaction from so-called ‘Global Media Freedom’ conference co-hosts Freeland & Hunt, or those who pledged to ‘shine a light on violations & abuses of media freedom, bringing them to the attention of global public and working towards accountability’”.

My question was of course rhetorical, not honestly expecting those governmental representatives who signed a pledge “to work together to protect media freedom” to actually do that.

Their pledge entailed committing to “shine a light on violations and abuses of media freedom, bringing them to the attention of the global public and working towards accountability.” How ironic.

RELATED LINKS:

“They Just Want Me in Prison”: MintPress Interviews Jailed Ukrainian Journalist Kirill Vyshinsky

‘They know that we know they are liars, they keep lying’: West’s war propaganda on Ghouta crescendos

FAKE NEWS WEEK: Why Channel 4 “News” Owes an Apology to Syria

Exploitation of children in propaganda war against Syria continues

The Post-war Generations’ Heritage, A Picture Can Tell it All

By Zeinab Daher

In visual marketing, a picture is worth 60,000 words; that’s why a text cannot compete with images, especially in times of war.

Science proved that the human brain is able to process images 60,000 times faster than a text. This makes clear that it takes a picture less time to reach a wider spectrum of audience than a text does.

Mr. Aziz Taher, a professional journalist photographer who heads the Press Photographers Syndicate in Lebanon, covered the brutal ‘Israeli’ war on Lebanon that happened to take place the summer of 2006. The war, that lasted some 33 days, from July 12th until August 14th, was the toughest in the Middle Eastern modern history.

In an exclusive interview with Al-Ahed news website, Mr. Taher introduces the importance of photos by recalling his own experience as a southerner from the Lebanese village of Houla.

President of the Press Photographers Syndicate in Lebanon, Mr. Aziz Taher – HQ: Hamra, Beirut

“For those who don’t know, in 1948, the ‘Israeli’ enemy committed a horrible criminal massacre in Houla. Because the massacre was not documented with photos, people forgot about it, although it claimed the lives of more than 70 martyrs. The massacre was absented from the society’s public memory. Here lies the importance of the photo.”

As the young villagers started talking about the massacre, people got to learn its story, the man narrates, “but it wasn’t deep-rooted like any other ‘Israeli’ massacre that was photographed such as the Deir Qassem, Sabra and Shatila, al-Mansouri and Qana massacres…”

Hereby, Mr. Taher moves to shed light on the importance of photos during the July 2006 war: “The ‘Israelis’ used to kill us then tell the entire world that they are in danger. Today, however, the equation has changed thanks to the picture.”

Photography as a profession

Mr. Aziz Taher, the professional photographer who works with several international news agencies, including Reuters, spoke on behalf of other Lebanese photojournalists, classifying their affiliations into patriotic and professional.

“Regarding our professional affiliation, we didn’t need anything to add to our photos; the facts on the ground were far worse than intervening in any picture. Massacres committed by the ‘Israeli’ enemy against our people, land, electricity, water, sea, and all what belongs to our life as Lebanese people, were bigger than being captured in a photo,” the man stresses, showing that every single photo was enough to expose the enemy’s brutality.

“On the patriotic level, the Lebanese photographers started observing and pursuing every massacre the ‘Israeli’ enemy committed against our people. This was a reason our photos reached international media outlets, having a strong influence that explained to the international public opinion this war, how it started and what is being committed [during it].”

He further elaborates, “During our coverage, six of my colleagues, and I, faced an intensive campaign by some sides that called us a ‘Hezbollah propaganda’, they started attacking us on the internet claiming that all of our photos are fabricated and fake.”

“They called me the ‘king of toys’, claiming that I prepare my cameras, my lenses and equipment, and I prepare toys, then I reach the “Hezbollah” attacked site and throw the toys there and capture the scene claiming it is a residential area.”

In conclusion, this showed how much harmful the photos were for them “as they tend to claim that we were making up those scenes, adding some toys and children in our photos, to say that ‘Israel’ is building residential areas. But the truth is that we didn’t need anything [when capturing the scenes] because all the places we took photos of are residential. There might be a Hezbollah center in each place, but the entire neighborhoods were residential. All neighborhoods embraced a history, heritage and memories, and it is the same for all the destroyed apartments.”

The man recalls the scenes of photos of the Dahiyeh [Beirut’s southern suburb] describing that they appeared as if an earthquake hit the place. “The case is similar for Bint Jbeil and all other villages where we have passed. The ‘Israeli’ enemy had rancorously bombed Lebanon, sometimes just ‘to have fun’, or just to destroy the place.”

Unforgettable incidents, scenes from the war

According to the veteran photographer, “Photos of the children were the most touching during the war. Scenes of the massacres committed by the ‘Israeli’ enemy were so much moving, lenses got tired of capturing photos of the victims… our eyes were exhausted because of the level of criminality and the daily killing by the ‘Israeli’ enemy against our people.”

Mr. Taher further stresses: “We were touched by every scene. We were all moved by what happened. But the moment I was moved the most was when colleague Layal Najib was martyred after the ‘Israeli’ warplanes bombed her car despite showing the ‘Press’ signal. She was targeted just like any other Lebanese national.”

President of the Press Photographers Syndicate in Lebanon, Mr. Aziz Taher – HQ: Hamra, Beirut

Layal Najib, the martyr of photography who was killed in South Lebanon, is a symbol of all other martyrs who dies during this war, the man points out. “She is not different from them, but she is a photojournalist, and they [pretend] to talk about human rights and freedoms, Layal exposed the example of this enemy that doesn’t differentiate between civilians and journalists and that considers the whole place as a scorched-land.”

We were moved by many scenes of the martyrs, and the destruction… imagine that when you enter the Dahiyeh, you find all the places and buildings you know became rubble, completely damaged, he says.

“Every scene from the July war, just like all other wars, stops you at every detail, the lack of water, the lack of fuel, and the entire sufferings people have faced during the war…”

Speaking on behalf of the Lebanese photojournalists, Mr. Taher says: “We’ve taken pictures of all the ‘Israeli’ aggressions against Lebanon until the historic liberation day in 2000. Each one of us was touched by a picture he/she took at some place, but all of us were moved by the daily photographs we took which were related to the ‘Israeli’ enemy.”

Absented photos

Asked whether the photographers tended to hide certain scenes during the war, Mr. Aziz Taher explains that: “Most of the photos I took during the war were in the southern suburb. Then we started moving to the areas we could reach, to several regions in the south until we reached Bint Jbeil… During the war, we have witnessed many scenes especially those of the resistance fighters, but we absented them due to a patriotic sense…”

He justifies that by saying that “there was no interest to show from where the rocket was launched, we’ve seen that but we intended to absent those scenes. It was the same case regarding the photos of the resistance men we’ve seen when arriving at a certain village; we tried not to take any photo of their faces although we, as photographers, are curious to take photos of a rocket launcher or anything related to the resistance. However, we decided to hide them.”

“In this battle, you are not looking for a scoop, as you see all this suffering, you should show solidarity, at least by the photos you take, with the resistance men who are roaming between valleys, fields and villages to fight this enemy. Your duty is to hide their photos, not because they don’t deserve to be seen; they indeed deserve that their photos head all newspapers and media outlets, but being keen for their lives, and the continuation of the resistance work, we had this intention to hide their faces.”

Covering other wars

In the world of photography and media, wars represent a subject that attracts the pros. It is a passion. Many photographers, during major events, stop their jobs, while many others become more induced. There are two types of motivation, the professional and the patriotic one, the man notes.

“When taking photos in times of war, especially during the July 2006 war, you gain a lot of experience as much as you expose your life to danger. Your life will daily be endangered because while taking photos at any place, the warplanes suddenly start operating or carry out strikes. A road may be blocked, a bridge may be bombed… it is a very tough experience the photographers have faced the like of which the Lebanese people did.”

Pointing out to covering wars in other places, Mr. Taher elaborates: “I covered the Kuwait war… Photography used to include more details, it was more difficult and more adventurous before mobile phones. Today, with the availability of mobile phones, the entire society takes photos. I wish I could have taken part in the Yemen war, also in Iraq… and any other place in the world where wars take place, but I didn’t get the opportunity to do that. There are photographers everywhere, but on the personal level, I wished I could have covered the events in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as all other places of war in our region and abroad.”

According to the Chinese proverb, a picture is worth a thousand words, he states.

“I say that every photo that needs an explanation is an unsuccessful one. The photo should express itself, this is what I teach my students at the Lebanese University. The photo speaks up for itself. The press photo is the most dangerous, most entertaining and most real. Hadn’t it expressed its idea to the people, it is definitely unsuccessful.”

The man notes that a picture is worth a thousand words when it is used properly and reflected honestly. “A photo records the memory of the people. Our photos are not only taken to be published. Sometimes we take photos that we don’t publish. They are intended to document the people’s collective memory, as I previously mentioned the Houla Massacre that was not documented with photos, leading to its absence from the people’s memories. Today, however, the July war or any other incident became tangible to the public through photos.”

A man with such a rich experience and history makes anyone realize that you can look at a picture for one second but think of it an entire life. This is the case of the July 2006 war. With the photos he and his colleagues have taken, they have bought the new generations, especially those who weren’t present at the time, return tickets to many moments otherwise gone. They have also commemorated history and taken part in the heroic duty of defending the nation.

 

From the July-August course of war and victory, by Taher Aziz’s lens: Recorded Moments of War, Suffering, Resistance and Victroy

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