Shooting the Messenger

The news that around 140 journalists have been killed by Israeli occupational forces over the past six months, with many others injured and missing should make any self-respecting reporter shudder with outrage.

Surprisingly there has been a haunting silence on the part of the Namibian media fraternity and Media Institute of Southern Africa regarding the assassination of Palestinian reporters.

There can be no doubt that in living memory we’ve not witnessed such courageous reporting from journalists and citizen reporters as we have seen from the Palestinians who have not relented on their duty to inform the public and to get the facts out to the world – even when faced with the prospect of imminent death.

Since 7 October Israel has deliberately targeted Palestinian reporters and their families, as in the well-known – but not isolated – case of Al Jazeera reporter Wael El Dahdoud, whose entire family was wiped out by a missile strike in an attempt to silence him. Many of his colleagues have been wounded or killed.

Israel has literally resorted to shooting the messenger.

Long hailed by Western powers as “the only democracy in the Middle East”, Israel and its media backers have for decades been able to control the narrative and present the natives as “animals”, “savages” and “barbarians” in an attempt to dehumanize the colonized population, but due to the intensive coverage of news agencies like Al Jazeera, the world has been able to see the humanity, the courage, compassion and immense suffering of the Gazans under fire.

In its latest move to silence critical reporting that dealt a mortal blow to its democratic pretensions, the Israeli Knesset this week passed a law that allows the government to ban any foreign news agencies it considers hostile to its war aims.

Due to its indiscriminate killing of the mostly defenseless children of Gaza, Israel has steadily lost control of the narrative and is consequently losing the support of the general public. It is no longer seen as the victim, but as the perpetrator and is increasingly isolated.

Their generous sponsorship of the war has also exposed the hypocrisy and complicity of the United States, Britain and Germany in the crimes being committed. There is a tectonic shift taking place in geopolitics, as the Western powers can no longer pose as the defenders of human rights when the whole world sees their unconditional support for Israel – as enablers of the Palestinian holocaust.

Who is going to listen to these people when they come to teach us about democracy and human rights?

So what can we say of the Namibian press, which has given such scant coverage to the crisis and even less analysis of this decisive turning point in world history?

To ignore the importance of these developments literally means to be ignorant of them. Surely, in light of the unforgivable crimes being committed against the starving, wounded, heartbroken and displaced children of Gaza, silence amounts to consent and complicity.

When future historians compare the level of coverage given, for example, to English Premier League football in the press with the scant coverage given to the earth-shattering events in Gaza, South Sudan or the blood-soaked eastern Congo – where more than 7 million people have been killed – they will surely be left with many difficult questions.

Jade McClune

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