On Reporting from Palestine and Israel, Pt.2
In the second part of Paul Jay’s interview with Lia Tarachansky, she talks
about the stories she produced while working for The Real News Network
in the Middle East. While in the region, Tarachansky investigated who
benefits from the occupation and attempted to provide context for the
news. Now, she is heading back to the region to establish a permanent
base on the ground, working with both Israeli and Palestinian journalists
to dedicated to independent media.
PAUL JAY: Welcome back to The Real News Network. I’m Paul Jay in Washington. We’re continuing our conversation with our Real News journalist who covers Israel and Palestine, is about to go back, Lia Tarachansky. Thanks for joining us again, Lia.
LIA TARACHANSKY: Thank you, Paul.
JAY: So talk to us about some of the stories. You produced many stories for us when you were there. But–so which ones jump out for you?
TARACHANSKY: The stories that jump out at me are the stories that are very much missing in the mainstream corporate media, stories that, for example, show the aftereffect of an incident. So while, you know, local media covers something that happens, we often cover what happens right afterwards, which is the most important part, the cannon fodder. One story particularly was after a settler was killed, and the entire corporate media was covering the death of the settler. Something similar just happened with a family of five in the settlement of /"[email protected]/. But what was missing was the complete invasion and shutting down of the West Bank, the invasion of the city of Nablus, and the assassination of three Palestinians.
TARACHANSKY: On the night of December 26, dozens of Israeli Army jeeps and bulldozers occupied the streets of the Old City in Nablus. Witnesses reported that more than 70 soldiers were involved in the raid operation. The Real News spoke to Tahani Sarkaji, Raed Sarkaji’s wife, who witnesses the raid during which he was assassinated.
TARACHANSKY: Other stories are political economy stories that investigate who benefits from the conflict, specifically what people and what companies benefit from privatizing the occupation.
TARACHANSKY: The family is listed in the Israeli daily Haaretz list of 100 most influential people in Israel. Besides its investment in AHAVA, the Livnat family profits in various ways from the economy of the occupation. The Livnat family sits on the board of IDB Holdings Corporation, Israelâ€™s largest investment conglomerate. Many of the familyâ€™s subsidiaries and firms are also part of the IDB enterprise. Many benefit directly from the occupation by either placing their factories in the West Bank or building the infrastructure of the settlement network. For example, some of the Livnat family’s biggest investments are in agricultural firms that grow produce in the West Bank and the occupied Golan Heights. Their IDB companies also produce cement for the construction of the segregation wall.
TARACHANSKY: And also stories that really paint a context. So, for example, we did a story that investigates specifically the methodology behind how settlers take over Palestinian land. So how they go, they establish an outpost, exactly how that outpost grows into a settlement, how the government interacts with that outpost, how they get set up with electricity and water, etc., and how they manage to grow and take more land and more land. So the stories that really fill in the blanks that the corporate mainstream media leaves behind.
JAY: I thought one of the stories that I thought was most interesting was one we did about a town that’s sort of leading the way in a new form of resistance or civil disobedience. Talk a bit about that.
TARACHANSKY: Sure. Well, Palestinian nonviolent resistance has been going on for decades. And, actually, Palestinian leaders such as Marwan Barghouti have been calling for a boycott, you know, decades ago. So–but now we see global coverage of that nonviolent resistance through villages like Bil’in, which is a fairly famous village at this point that has a weekly protest against the Segregation Fence. And, actually, the Israeli high court, Supreme Court, actually voted in favor of that village. But the army refuses to abide by the Supreme Court ruling. So I did a story that looks at how Bil’in is at the center of this mass nonviolent movement. And if you look at the West Bank now, every week, usually around the weekends, there’s weekly protests that go on for years. So Bil’in has been going on for six years now, I believe, where every single Friday the village protests the wall, and every single Friday they get shot at by tear gas and water cannons and rubber bullets or real bullets by the Army. So this village is sort of at the center of a nonviolent resistance that’s really flourishing throughout the West Bank.
JAY: And to what extent–when you say "really flourishing", how much is that developing? And I guess one of the things you might want to be covering when you go back is the consequences or effect of the uprising across the whole Arab world and how this is affecting the Palestinian struggle. Do you get some sense of that yet?
TARACHANSKY: I think that the repression, the Israeli repression of nonviolent resistance has been going on for–you know, since as long as it’s been–the nonviolent resistance has been going on. But one shift that we’ve seen is that because of Israeli noncooperation, Israeli activists cooperating in solidarity with this resistance, what we’re seeing now is a new wave of Israeli repression of Israeli nonviolent activists. And that’s been really increasing in the past six months to a point where Israeli activists have their houses raided, they get called by the Israeli intelligence, they get interrogated. So that’s new. I think that the uprisings in the Arab world sort of leave most Israelis in the dark, because I think most Israelis have never considered the possibility that the Arab people that live around them are, first of all, all different nationalities and communities and they want different things, and they’re not some big monolith of the Arab world countries. And, also, I don’t think that Israelis really consider that these people have–you know, really passionately want democracy. I think that the stereotypes we’ve internalized about the Arab world don’t include the democratic movement. So I think that these democratic movements from Tunisia to Algeria, Libya, you know, Egypt, etc., are going to really open the eyes of a lot of Israelis. And I don’t know what effect that’s going to have on the nonviolent resistance, but what I do know is that when I returned to Israel and started working for The Real News, I would go to the weekly protests also in East Jerusalem, in neighborhoods like Sheikh Jarrah, and it would be 200 people, and by the time I left Israel the last time, there would be 1,000 people. So this movement is growing. And what’s really inspiring is that this is a persistent movement of Israelis and Palestinians working hand-in-hand in complete solidarity, and they are relentless. They go week in and week out, every single Friday, every single Saturday, every single Sunday, and they protest every single week, despite the constant repression.
JAY: How do you assess other coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian issues?
TARACHANSKY: One thing I think the mainstream media really fails at doing is demonstrating the daily occupation and the daily life in Israel with the constant militarism that our society is undergoing. And by hiring a local Israeli journalist and a local Palestinian journalist, I think The Real News is really breaking through a wall that the mainstream media always seems to hit its head against, which is trusting the native people that live in the land to cover their own society. And I think that only an Israeli and a Palestinian journalist can really understand the inside of the reality of their life and the political map to really cover the region in a way that portrays what that conflict looks like on a daily basis. And mainstream journalists, you know, they typically get flown into Israel, they stay in Jerusalem for three, maybe, months, at most four months, and they go on these short assignments to the territories or to Israel, and they never really build any relationships with the local people on the ground that really demonstrate and in some ways empower those people to represent their own society for themselves. So I think that that’s–.
JAY: There’s another angle, too, which–as the American networks have so clearly internalized the idea of American national interest as a starting point for these issues and this sort of alliance with Israel, Al Jazeera, which on the whole does, you know, more interesting work, I think, than the mainstream US networks, still, it’s owned by the emir of Qatar, and Qatar’s a player in the region, and there’s been a lot of critique about how they’re covering Bahrain, and one has to keep it in mind. Russia Today, clearly it likes to critique just about anything American and has a certain amount of Russian interest in mind.
TARACHANSKY: Being independent means that when out and covering the conflict, I don’t need to worry about having our funding cut off when I’m calling in an occupation or when I’m showing what the Israeli army does after an incident happens, and I think that that’s very, very important, especially because of the way that the conflict currently is portrayed is always from the point of view of Western interests and not from the point of view of the fodder, the cannon fodder, the effect of those interests on the people on the ground.
JAY: Well, thanks very much for joining us, Lia.
TARACHANSKY: Thank you, Paul.
JAY: And if you want to see more of Lia’s work, it’s all down here below the player in a collection. And if you’d like to see more work from the Middle East, don’t forget the donate buttons here, because for Lia to go do that, you’ve got to punch this. Thanks for joining us.
End of Transcript
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