I am a little journalist who partially misappropriates his role and betrays his mission. I run around the south, between the sites of destruction and traumatized residents, but to Gaza I do not go.
I am a little journalist who partially misappropriates his role and betrays his mission. Granted, I do run around the south, between the sites of destruction and traumatized residents. On hearing a siren I lay on the ground and cover my head with my hands, or find dubious refuge in some children's clothes shop. I even gaze at Gaza from the highest hilltop in Sderot, but to Gaza I do not go, about its suffering I do not report. And as it is with me, so it is with every Israeli journalist.
The last time I was in Gaza was in November 2008. I reported then on an Israeli missile that hit the children of the Indira Gandhi nursery and killed their kindergarten teacher in front of their eyes. That was my last story from Gaza. Since then Israel has banned Israeli journalists from entering the Strip, and the journalists accepted this with typical obedience and subservience. Over the years they turned out to be the most loyal (and admired ) public servants: They know the beast's soul. They know that their readers and viewers don't want to know what is really happening in Gaza, and joyfully fulfill their desire. Not a word of protest from the journalists, whose government prevents them from filling their essential role.
Not that all are devoid of courage: The daring among them reported over the years from sites of war or natural disasters around the world. Heroes that they are, they were in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and even little me was in Sarajevo under a bombardment, in Japan when the earth shook and in Georgia went it went to war. The government of Israel did not express any self-righteous concern for our well-being, and we fulfilled our role, even when it was dangerous. Not only in Gaza, an hour and a quarter's drive from our homes, a place that affects our lives immeasurably more than Fukushima.
During Operation Cast Lead, my colleague Amira Hass managed to get into Gaza via Egypt, thanks to her dedication, determination and second passport. This time no one even tried.
That's how it is that Israel knows almost nothing about what is happening in Gaza. Somebody is making sure of that. The terrible killing of the Dalou family, for example, was covered as lip service to professional journalism, at the sidelines of the newspapers and news broadcasts. There is almost no tangible expression in the Israeli media of the destruction and death that Israel has sown and the great fear gripping one and a half million residents for a week, without a reinforced safety room, without Code Red alerts and without a shelter. They suffice with short, dry reports at the edges of the news. Occasionally, they bring some Ahmed or other on the line, and every report from there is accompanied by the words "according to Palestinians," with hypocritical accusations that "the Palestinians are making use of photos of the horror," as if this is the story and not the horror itself.
The issue has nothing to do with political outlooks, only with professional journalism: Israelis should know what is done in their name, even they really, really don't want to know. That's the role of journalism. Of course, the suffering in the south should be widely reported - I do it also - but we must not close our eyes to what is happening on the other side, even if it's not nice to see a house blown up with all its residents.
Whoever wants to know these days what is happening in Gaza is invited to watch the international networks and read the newspapers of the world: Only there will they bring you the full story. Israel, and some of its journalists, will tell you that it's hostile, slanderous and distorted journalism. They only want you to see Ashkelon and Rishon Letzion.
One needs to know what is happening in Gaza in order to know what is happening in Israel. Journalism that fails to do so, and doesn't even protest, is conscripted hasbara. It's nice when a military correspondent in a yellow helmet climbs onto a firefighters' crane to show us the destruction of an apartment block; we can even somehow live with a military propagandist-commentator who only grunts for war. But reading out text messages from the authorities is not journalism. A real Israeli journalist should have been in Gaza right now. Without this, and with the negligible coverage from there, we are all little journalists.