Journalism Is Not A Crime, Israeli Apartheid Is

Israeli forces shot Abu Akleh in the head while she was on assignment in Jenin in the occupied West Bank

I chose to become a journalist to be close to people. It may not be easy to change reality, but I was at least able to bring their voice to the world,” Shireen Abu Akleh.

Political journalism has become equated with “information wars” and political propaganda, especially with the rise of government-owned media outlets. Yet, the “assassination” of Shireen Abu Akleh, a veteran Palestinian journalist, is a potent reminder to the world that transparent journalism still exists. Abu Akleh, 51, has become a role model, not just for the Palestinian girls, but for the whole world as well.

Abu Akleh dedicated her life to the Palestinian cause. If you get the chance to check her latest work, you will realize how passionate she was about her job. She said she chose journalism to be close to the people, and she really did. Her “assassination” is a potent reminder to the Israelis that they cannot wish away their Palestinian neighbors, not even through normalization deals.

A few hours after the journalist was killed, Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett initially claimed that there was a “considerable chance” that “armed Palestinians, who fired wildly”, were responsible. But in a later press conference, Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz stated: “It can be Palestinians who shot her. Tragically, it may be on our side. We are investigating it”.

Israeli media outlets followed the same rhetoric, claiming that Palestinians should be held responsible for what happened to Abu Akleh. It was an attempt to produce a counter-narrative to the Palestinian one. Yet, now Israeli media outlets are using other justifications, arguing that she deserved what happened to her because she hated “Israel” and she supported “terrorists”.

How on earth do we consider such a country the “only democracy” in the Middle East? Even if she hated Israel, is it a fundamental justification to assassinate her?

Again, Abu Akleh was not killed; she was assassinated by the occupation forces. Journalism is not a crime and what Abu Akleh did was a “brave” act from a Palestinian woman who wanted to expose the Israeli double standards.

She was the voice of Palestine to the rest of the Arab world and its diasporas,” said Mezna Qato, a historian at the University of Cambridge. “She was the one who forced the Arab world to remember, to contend with, and to take seriously what it means to disengage from the question of Palestine.

Arab countries could seize the opportunity to further pressure Washington to change its course with Israel. The Russian War has prompted a wide range of international and regional outrage, yet no one is interested in holding Israel responsible. President Joe Biden vowed to promote human rights around the world, but all he did was in vain.

Months ago, Amnesty International, an international human rights organization published a report on the human rights situation in the occupied territories which prompted wide outrage in Tel Aviv.

The report explicitly accuses Israel of “apartheid” and “institutionalized and systematic discrimination against Palestinians.” Amnesty said it has “concluded that Israel has perpetrated the international wrong of apartheid as a human-rights violation and a violation of public international law.”

The report, titled “Israel’s Apartheid Against Palestinians: Cruel System of Domination and Crime Against Humanity,” accuses Israel of “institutionalized segregation and discrimination against Palestinians, as a racial group, in all areas under its control, amounts to a system of apartheid, and a serious violation of Israel’s human rights obligations.”

Now is the right time to expose Israel’s real face. Though the US and many other countries have condemned the Israeli move, no real change has happened on the ground. Instead of bullying China and Iran for “terrorizing” the world, the US should hold Israel responsible for it is “war crimes”.

We do not know who the next target maybe, but we hope this occupation ends very soon. Rest in power, Abu Akleh. 

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