Monday, August 09, 2010

A small example of self-censorship in Gaza

The Palestinian Arab Ma'an website has a short article:

Relations between Hamas and Islamic Jihad are "not tense at all," a Hamas spokesman said Monday.

Sami Abu Zuhri told journalists that the relationship between the two Islamist movements "is strategic. We believe there are stable relations with Islamic Jihad at the highest levels."

The spokesman said his movement consults Islamic Jihad on matters related to "the Palestinian people's interest, and there is field coordination between the movements as efforts to develop better relations are ongoing."

The Hamas official's comments follow a dispute between combatants affiliated to both movements.
The supposed news site, which Western journalists rely on, never had an article describing what the dispute between the movements was to begin with.

In reality, as I mentioned yesterday, there was a short but significant gunbattle between the two last Thursday as well as other recent incidents.

But Ma'an is loathe to report on anything that might anger Hamas, and has been since the Hamas coup when their offices were "visited" by the terror group in charge. Since then, the only time you can see any stories like this are when Hamas officially comments on the story - which they were forced to do because pro-Fatah Arabic newspapers, based out of the West Bank, did not face the same fear and reported about the incidents.

One can assume that Western reporters in Gaza share the same fear that Ma'an does, and would not report anything that makes Hamas look bad.

I've seen this scenario happen often, where the first time various stories get reported is when Hamas issues a statement.

In the end, Hamas ends up having nearly full control over the story. Westerners remain clueless of the real situation in Gaza, instead relying on "eyewitnesses" who are given guided tours of parts of Gaza by people with their own agendas and who spout off statistics that may or may not be accurate, but are invariably believed.

The irony is that Hamas will respond to media reports, as this story illustrates. But since Western reporters are too scared and lazy to challenge Hamas in any way, Hamas gets a free pass in English. In short, the Western media - which should be a watchdog and hold leaders accountable for their actions - is happy to ignore totalitarian leaders in cases such as these, in order to protect themselves and in order to keep their own false memes of Gaza alive.