Missing Israeli settlers: Al Jazeera English’s distorted reporting
Gaza – Al Jazeera English’s reporting on the missing Israeli settlers was not naive and it is rather impossible to classify it as part of the rhetoric of neutrality and objective reporting on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
It is simply deliberate coverage that targets the Palestinians’ presence on their own land and their just cause, while giving leverage to the “perseverance” of the Israeli society living in a jungle of “barbaric” Palestinians. Al Jazeera English correspondent Jane Ferguson started her report a few days ago by focusing on the feelings of Israelis and specifically their shock following the [alleged] capture of three Israelis about 10 days ago.
This shock, of course, did not not originate from the Palestinians’ right to face their enemies, but was ignited due to the Palestinians’ insensitivity, which was displayed through their “kidnapping of three teenagers” who could be robbed of their lives with a fatal bullet, or rather “a deceiving” bullet in the words of the Qatari channel.
Certainly, all the misery the Palestinians have suffered for 66 years at the hands of those expressing their shock is insignificant. Today, the only thing that matters is the sorrow of the Israeli people. Ferguson began her report with images of a tent erected by residents of Nof Ayalon village to pray for the safe return of Naftali Fraenkel, a town native and one of the three [allegedly] kidnapped individuals.
Ferguson did not miss the opportunity to remind viewers that the three Israelis (Naftali Frenkel, Gil-ad Shaer and Eyal Yifrach) were teenagers, further seeking the viewers’ compassion by stating that they were all under the age of 19. The reporter did not stop there, but gave Fraenkel’s aunt a platform to express her feelings on air, saying “I am still in shock, it is hitting me repeatedly, Fraenkel went to school and didn’t come back. It is really difficult, and the whole family is crushed.”
The correspondent’s report does not mention neither the suffering of over 5,700 Palestinians held in the occupation’s prisons, nor the fact that four of those prisoners died under physical and psychological torture in the past year.
“Not only in this small village are people waiting anxiously to hear news about the missing teenagers, but across the entire nation, everyone is gripped by this story,” Ferguson commented in her report, adding that Israeli channels have been in the village for days to cover the incident.
The scene displaying solidarity with the town’s locals is later taken off screen to be replaced with images of a street populated by Israeli settlers. The channel then sheds light on the challenges faced by Israelis to strengthen their “perseverance” on a land that is not theirs, saying that they are not scared and that they are going on with their lives as usual.
To give more credibility to her short analysis, Ferguson gives a female settler the opportunity to explain whether or not the “kidnapping incident” had negatively affected her life. The settler confirms Ferguson’s view by saying, “there is nothing to be afraid of. If there was a bombing on a bus, does it means we should not catch buses? This is the same for me, this is our lifestyle.”
The reporter seemed to have forgotten how Palestinians resist death and how much they love life even though they are besieged by their enemy’s weapons from the front, its tanks from behind and its planes from above.
Perhaps, Palestinian viewers would have better received the report if Ferguson had also visited towns and refugee camps in the West Bank, and had broadcast live images of the arrest campaigns and the raids on Palestinian homes, as well as Israel’s policy of systematic killing, as reflected by the fact that four Palestinians have already been killed since the beginning of the operation.
Meanwhile, Al Jazeera English’s Gaza correspondent Charles Stratford started his report by linking the operation in Hebron to the Gaza Strip by showing two Palestinian boys from Gaza training on how to use weapons and participate in combat missions at a camp affiliated to Hamas.
Stratford then commented that “these are the children of people who believe, like the majority of Gaza residents, that Hamas represents the future of Palestine and is a part of the unity government rejected by Israel.”
The correspondent sought to differentiate between “terrorist” boys following Hamas’ path and other “innocents” that fall in the hands of the group that is training droves of “terrorists.”
The English-language Qatari channel claims to have been launched to change the stereotype about the Middle East. However, today it has become another burden on Palestinians, promoting the Israeli side of the story in the West while disregarding the real narrative.