Israeli journalism built on censorship, like its society

Censorship is the foundation of Israel. It has used censorship to hide the reality of how it "exists." That censorship has been built on keeping out facts that would expose Israel as an nation that embraces anti-civil rights practices based partly on race but mostly on religion. Normally, governments that use censorship are exposed as apartheid states, or racist states by activists within their own existence. In every state where racism and apartheid and discrimination have existed, the challenge to the oppression has come from the people who live in the societies, not necessarily whether they are or are not victims of the oppression.

These voices of civil rights showcase and spotlight the dissidents and the oppressive military and civilian prison gulags that dot the country exposing, when revealed the hypocrisy of the governments.

But not in Israel. Israel is the one nation where the population willingly embraces the censorship and the lies. Israel is the one nation where the majority of its citizens intentionally close their eyes to immoral conduct, racist acts of discrimination and vicious oppression against others.

Israel is the one nation where its citizens -- those who are deemed "real" citizens because of their religion -- intentionally ignore the civil rights atrocities in order to live a fantasy life-style where they pat themselves on the back as being moral, ethical and just.

This can only occur, however, if the news media is both free and imprisoned in censorship. And Israel's media is imprisoned in censorship. On the one hand, the Israeli media is journalisticly professional and free to report on issues of controversy, except within one scope, reporting on its clandestine mukhabarat and police state that is the not-so-hidden Big Brother that monitors everyone and everything for conduct. You can report on anything but not those topics that involved Israel's secret, sinister trait involving super-secret atrocities that are not so secret but that are hidden by Israel's media complicity.

Israel's media will not fully report on the Israeli oppression of the Palestinians. Israel's media embraces the code words that are substituted for truth. A "fence" not a "wall" because part of the "barrier" is made of chain link fence and part is made of concrete. The chainlink fense is where people do not live, and the concrete is used where Palestinians are nearby. It's a clear intent that the Israeli media not only accepts but perpetuates. The concept of a "Wall" is so abhorrent in Western societies but to manipulate words can easily pass the litmus test of feeble minded Americans, for example, who are so uneducated about the reality of the world and so willing to believe anything that fits their convenient views of the world.

And the Israeli news media plays along with Israel's censors without complain on the false premise that Israel is actively engaged in an ongoing war. It's not a military war because the only war like behavior between Arabs and Jews in the Middle East involves massive assaults by Israel and feeble responses from the Arabs. Israel fires high-tech missiles at Palestinian targets killings scores of civilians among targeted militants -- who are condemned as militants and "terrorists" by the Israeli media without a question of civil rights or things like trial, evidence and conviction. And Palestinians respond with high-tech fireworks, firing missiles blindly into the sky and occasionally failing near a settler home or an Israeli civilian home. And the Israeli military goes into full "Media Military Alert" to exaggerate the Palestinian response as the "initiating assault" while ignoring fully the Israeli military provocation and death wreaked by its war machine.

Israel's media is also playing along to hide the truth about its international campaign of murder. The MOSSAD routinely murders civilians and activists in a fashion that makes the Soviet Gulag a Boy Scout camp. Rather than expose these murders, the Israeli media is brought into a room by the military censor, which has as much power as the prime minister of Israel, and directs the editors to not report on the incident, offering substitute phrases to soften the blow of truth.

How do you soften the blow of truth? How can you justify softening the blow of truth, especially when you claim to be a journalist.

I published columns in the Israeli media, but there is a big difference when it comes to professionalism between expressing an opinion that is identified as an opinion to the reader, and pretending to be a reporter or professional journalist vested with the responsibility to write the facts as they are not as the censor seeks. Yet even in the narrower world of Op-Ed writing in Israel, the pressure to change phrases and soften blows is distinguishable and tragic.

The shame is on Israeli media, especially those who allow their bias to add to the censorship. That's why most American news media do not send Arabs to cover Israel, but rather prefer to assign Jewish journalists to do the reporting. And I am not talking about in Israel, but mostly by the complicit Western News Media which is not pressured by the Israeli censors but matteroffactly embraces the censorship as a way of professional life when it comes to All Things Israel. The mainstream American media self-censors itself to avoid hassles. And it assigns reporters who are Jewish to cover Israel to make that censorship easy to stomach as a profession. A Jewish reporter who supports Israel would know how to go to make it a story and how far to stop to minimize the shame on Israel's daily conduct.

The Israeli cover-up of the death of Prisoner X, an Israeli spy believed involved in the Dubai murder of a Palestinian activist is only the most recent example. The censorship of Mordechai Vanunu and the truth about Israel's Nuclear Weapons is another. Israeli reporters are banned from writing about Israel's nuclear weapons and that alone would make me shamed about my professional life if I were an Israeli reporter. And of course there is the torture of Palestinian civilians in Israeli prisons, and the killings of Arabs by settler fanatics that go unreported, or are whitewashed in short blurbs intended to mislead public conscience. So tragic.

It happens to a much less degree in all countries, I guess. Many Arab columnists pull their punches to give greater weight to anti-Israeli opinions. But Opinions are not true journalism. Opinions are free speech and reflect the writers biases and interpretation of events and facts that exist. Reporters however in the Arab Media also face a self-imposed censorship. But they are frequently called out by the hypocritical Western Media and the Israeli media. But the Western Media and the Israeli are even more guilty. They are more guilty because they practice the very thing they complain about.

-- Ray Hanania

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About R. Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning Palestinian journalist, columnist, author and standup comedian. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize by the Chicago Sun-Times for his groundbreaking series on the Palestinian Intifada in 1990, he has won Four (4) Society of Professional Journalism Lisagor Awards and was named Best Ethnic American Columnist by the New America Media in November 2006. In 2010, he won the SPJ Sigma Delta Chi National Award for writing. Hanania’s journalism and communications career is extensive. A former Chicago City Hall political reporter for 17 years, Hanania is the president of Urban Strategies Group media and consulting. He is a syndicated columnist with Creators Syndicate and writes every Sunday for the Saudi Gazette Newspaper and Al Arabiya. In Broadcast media, Hanania co-hosts the live radio talk show "Radio Baladi" with columnist Ali Younes every Friday morning at 8 AM EST on WNZK AM 690 radio in Detroit. Hanania has authored eight books including the humor book "I'm Glad I look Like a Terrorist: Growing up Arab in America" (1996), and he is the contributor in seven books including “Foods of Chicago: A Delicious History” which features his Palestinian food recipes as well as experiences growing up Arab in America. He also authored "Arabs of Chicagoland" (2005). In addition to journalism, Hanania is also the Palestinian standup comedian who has performed around the world including in Beirut, Dubai, London, Dublin, Palestine, Israel, Jerusalem, Ramallah, Tel Aviv, Jaffa, and for universities across the United States and Canada. He can be reached at and at Reach him by email at [email protected]

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