For pro-Israel news readers, it is no surprise to learn that there are strong elements of anti-Israel reporting in much of the mainstream media.
But what about mainstream media outlets which employ people as their source for news about the Arab-Israeli conflict who are not only anti-Israel, but who are major players in anti-Israel activity? Can those media be trusted?
How about a photojournalist who is active in the Arab Palestinian “anti-normalization” movement – that is, a movement created to prevent debate in any form between Arabs and Israelis because such a process legitimizes the pro-Israel position. For advocates of this stance, anything that allows the Israel position on any issue is illegitimate, because Israel is illegitimate and Israel’s presence in the Middle East is illegitimate.
But the anti-normalization movement goes further. Its position is that there should not be any exchanges of any kind between Israel and the Arab Palestinians, including negotiations, of course, but also cultural exchanges, academic exchanges, student co-existence groups or any other form of interaction in which the Arab side could be interpreted as legitimizing, or “treating as normal” anything to do with Israel or Zionism. (Some in this movement make an exception for Arab Palestinians who live in the disputed territories and who would face unemployment if they did not work for Israeli companies.)
It is hard to imagine someone in this movement being able to report objectively about Israel.
But Fadi Arouri is a photojournalist who has covered the Arab-Israeli conflict not only for Arab Palestinian media, such as Ma’an and al-Ayyam, but also for Reuters. Arouri has been employed by the Chinese media powerhouse Xinhua News Agency since 2009.
al-Arouri is a very good photographer, but he is neither objective nor fair.
PETITION TO BAR ISRAELI JOURNALISTS FROM THE TERRITORIES
This spring he was involved with a group of Arab Palestinian journalists in the effort to create a petition the goal of which was to bar Israeli journalists from entering the disputed territories (they call it the “West Bank”).
Arouri is quoted in an Arab media account as one of the campaign managers for the petition, and said that Israeli journalists should be barred because the “Zionist journalists” should not be allowed into the “West Bank,” when “Israel prevents Palestinian journalists from entering many areas and are prohibited from entering Jerusalem.”
Let’s put aside the fact that Arab Palestinian journalists enter Israel, including Jerusalem, all the time, including Arouri himself who has posted pictures and videos of himself covering stories in Israel.
Another anti-Israel activity Arouri is currently involved in is promoting the boycott of any official events if members of the Israeli media are in attendance.
Not content with spreading disinformation which has some semblance of truth – indeed, it is difficult for Arab Palestinians to have complete freedom in Israel, given the decades of violence, Arouri tells a reporter that “98% of Zionist journalists [by which is meant all Israeli journalists, whether they are Jewish, Christian or Arab, right-wing or left-wing] who know Arabic learned it from working for the Israeli intelligence.” Really?
SOUGHT TO BAR ISRAELI PRODUCTS FROM ENTERING THE TERRITORIES
But Arouri is not only engaged in trying to prevent any Israeli journalist from entering the disputed territories, he also does not want anything from Israel in the disputed territories. He was allegedly at the forefront of an effort to block the Israeli Fox chothing store chain from opening a shop in Ramallah. According to Alray Media Agency, a governmental media agency located in Gaza,
Fadi al-Arouri, a Palestinian journalist involved in the anti-normalization campaign, said that the opening of a Fox branch in Ramallah was a “stain of disgrace in light of calls for boycotting the state of occupation and its products.”
His hatred for Israel is so great, when Arouri posted his availability for photography gigs on an online site called “Lightstalkers,” he included in his very brief biography the fact that he was “injured in January 2007 from Israeli Army, and Forced To get Treatment inside Israeli Hospital For more than 10 months.
While the available facts are sketchy, it appears that Arouri was shot during an Israel Defense Force incursion into Ramallah in the beginning of 2007. The IDF had attempted to capture a wanted al Aksa Martyrs Brigade terrorist but residents blew their cover and ground troops came in as back up. Arouri worked for the Arab Palestinian Ma’an at the time.
POPULAR STRUGGLE COORDINATING COMMITTEE
Online, Arouri has boasted about his position as Arabic Media Coordinator and Project Manager between 2009 – 2011 with the Popular Struggle Coordinating Committee. This is a collaboration between community organizers throughout the Arab Palestinian communities which is modeled on activities carried out during the First Intifada.
These diverse, non-partisan committees lead community resistance to Israeli occupation in various forms, such as marches, strikes, demonstrations, direct actions and legal campaigns, as well as supporting boycott, divestment and sanctions.
It is hard to understand how someone so deeply involved in activities which are not even characterizable as “pro-Palestinian,” but instead are firmly anti-Israel, can be employed as a journalist covering the Arab – Israeli conflict.
But it is not only the major media outlets which have rewarded him despite his virulently anti-Israel activities.
In September, 2012, Arouri’s photography was part of an exhibition at a show at the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem which featured “8 Palestinian photojournalists.” Apparently Arouri’s claim that Arab Palestinian journalists aren’t allowed to enter Jerusalem does not apply to him.
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the U.S. correspondent for The Jewish Press. A graduate of Harvard Law School, she previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email: Lori@JewishPressOnline.com
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