THERE certainly have been genocides even in humanity’s recent history, the most horrible being the massacre of 1.4 million Cambodians by the Khmer Rouge from 1975 to 1979.
But the genocide being committed by Israel against Palestinians in Gaza — 11,000 so far killed, including at least 5,000 children and most probably another 10,000 buried in the rubble of buildings destroyed by US-made and paid-for bombs — tests our very humanity.
Because of technology, we are witnesses to the daily massacre of civilians since October 8 by the arrogant Jewish state demanding collective punishment of 2 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip for Hamas’ atrocity in killing 1,200 Israeli civilians, and taking 240 hostages.
Every day, we see the limp, bloodied bodies of dead children, we see them crying out in pain and terror dealt by US bombs, and recently, we were shocked witnesses to a horrifying scene of 36 infants who had to be taken out of incubators because the hospital no longer has power to run the machines, and therefore left to die on a table.
It is a disgrace that most of mainstream media in our country have chosen to ignore this genocide with some, based on their choices of articles, cheering on the Israelis in their massacre of Palestinians. This is another testament to the hold of the US on our media.
It is not coincidental that those who have disseminated the US propaganda to demonize both former president Rodrigo Duterte (because of his antipathy towards America) and China (because it has become the US’ main rival as global hegemon) as well as those who supported the pro-American President Benigno Aquino 3rd and the presidential candidate Leonor Robredo are now the same people and media outlets cheering on Israel in their blood lust to exterminate the Palestinians.
They have been so brainwashed, or so much bought, by the US which they believe has been the fountainhead of humanity’s noblest values. The US is the opposite, the engine for almost all bloody wars in the post-war era. The US has been continuously brainwashing us: Just check out, among many other media outlets, articles in the Philippine Star (where our ambassador to the US Jose Romualdez is a columnist BS stockholder) and Rappler (which has continuously received funding from the National Endowment for Democracy) — practically Washington’s mouthpieces in the South China Sea dispute and now Israel’s local media champions. Even an ignorant cartoonist — obviously without any argumentation — has the gall to label people like me who have studied the South China Sea disputes for years (in my case, 28 years China built a structure on Mischief Reef in 1995) as “Beijing mouthpieces.”
We journalists are really powerless, ordinary citizens except for the fact that we have our jobs which can be a means of getting other people — no matter how few — to think differently from what the ruling elites, local and American, want us to believe.
I urge my colleagues to disseminate and sign the following open letter dated Nov. 9, 2023, and signed by 1,265 journalists from the US and all over the world condemning the killing of journalists in Gaza, urging objective coverage of the Israel vs Hamas war, and calling for a stop to the genocide of Palestinians by Israel. You can sign the statement and join the protest at https://forms.gle/gb1hihzZjYm2Yy4D7.
“We condemn Israel’s killing of journalists in Gaza and urge integrity in Western media coverage of Israel’s atrocities against Palestinians.
Israel’s devastating bombing campaign and media blockade in Gaza threatens newsgathering in an unprecedented fashion. We are running out of time.
More than 11,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s four-week siege. Included in the mounting death toll are at least 36 journalists, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, in what the group calls the deadliest conflict for journalists since it began tracking deaths in 1992. Scores more have been injured, detained, gone missing or seen their family members killed.
As reporters, editors, photographers, producers, and other workers in newsrooms around the world, we are appalled at the slaughter of our colleagues and their families by the Israeli military and government.
We are writing to urge an end to violence against journalists in Gaza and to call on Western newsroom leaders to be clear-eyed in coverage of Israel’s repeated atrocities against Palestinians.
Reporters in the besieged Gaza Strip are contending with extensive power outages, food and water shortages and a breakdown of the medical system. They have been killed while visibly working as press, as well as at night in their homes. An investigation from Reporters Without Borders also shows deliberate targeting of journalists during two October 13 Israeli strikes in South Lebanon, which killed Reuters videographer Issam Abdallah and injured six other journalists.
Reporters’ families have been killed, too. Wael Dahdouh, Al Jazeera’s Gaza bureau chief and a household name in the Arab world, learned on-air October 25 that his wife, children, and other relatives had been killed in an Israeli airstrike. A November 5 strike on the home of journalist Mohammad Abu Hassir of Wafa News Agency killed him and 42 family members.
Israel has blocked foreign press entry, heavily restricted telecommunications and bombed press offices. Some 50 media headquarters in Gaza have been hit in the past month. Israeli forces explicitly warned newsrooms they “cannot guarantee” the safety of their employees from airstrikes. Taken with a decades-long pattern of lethally targeting journalists, Israel’s actions show wide scale suppression of speech.
The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate has urged Western journalists to publicly condemn the targeting of journalists. “[We] call on our fellow journalists around the world to take action to stop the horrifying bombardment of our people in Gaza,” the group said on October 31 in a published statement.
We are heeding that call.
We stand with our colleagues in Gaza and herald their brave efforts at reporting in the midst of carnage and destruction. Without them, many of the horrors on the ground would remain invisible.
We join press associations, including Reporters Without Borders, the Arab and Middle Eastern Journalists Association and the International Federation of Journalists in demanding an explicit commitment from Israel to end the violence against journalists and other civilians. Western newsrooms benefit tremendously from the work of Gazan journalists and must take immediate steps to call for their protection.
We also hold Western newsrooms accountable for dehumanizing rhetoric that has served to justify ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Double standards, inaccuracies and fallacies abound in American publications and have been well-documented. More than 500 journalists signed an open letter in 2021 outlining concerns that US media outlets ignore Israel’s oppression of Palestinians. Yet the call for fair coverage has gone unanswered.
Newsrooms have instead undermined Palestinian, Arab and Muslim perspectives, dismissing them as unreliable and have invoked inflammatory language that reinforces Islamophobic and racist tropes. They have printed misinformation spread by Israeli officials and failed to scrutinize indiscriminate killing of civilians in Gaza — committed with the support of the US government.
Since the October 7 attack by Hamas, in which more than 1,200 Israelis, including four journalists, were killed and some 240 others captured, these issues have compounded. News coverage has positioned the attack as the starting point of the conflict without offering necessary historical context — that Gaza is a de facto prison of refugees from historic Palestine, that Israel’s occupation is illegal under international law, and that Palestinians are bombarded and massacred regularly by the Israeli government.
UN experts have warned they are “convinced that the Palestinian people are at grave risk of genocide,” yet Western outlets remain hesitant to quote genocide experts and accurately describe the existential threat unfolding in Gaza.
This is our job: to hold power to account. Otherwise we risk becoming accessories to genocide.
We are renewing the call for journalists to tell the full truth without fear or favor. To use precise terms that are well-defined by international human rights organizations, including “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing” and “genocide.” To recognize that contorting our words to hide evidence of war crimes or Israel’s oppression of Palestinians is journalistic malpractice and an abdication of moral clarity.
The urgency of this moment cannot be overstated. It is imperative that we change course.”
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