Enter the SABC -the great defender of Palestinians. Sometimes.

2015-05-10 20:35

Tonight I watched a television news program broadcast on SABC about the Israeli/ Palestinian conflict and I have to say that I'm quite confounded at the South African preoccupation with the Palestinians in gaza and the West Bank. What about the other Palestinians? The ones living in other Middle Eastern countries? The ones we don't mention?

The premise of the program is meant to be a comparison between two different Palestinian speakers who were brought to visit our country during an annual event at universities around the country called Israel apartheid week. That part of the program took all of 3 minutes. I'm not going to delve into the the details of the rest of the show because it doesn't directly relate to this article.

All the talk and hype in South Africa about the Palestinians  and Israel started me thinking about the other Palestinians. The ones living in Arab countries who are in far more dire circumstances but who are ignored by the mainstream media. Why do you think that is? The Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank are under the governance of their own government - a coalition government between a group called Fatah and a group called Hamas (you may have heard of Hamas - they have been designated as a terrorist organisation - the link I've included below will give you the basic facts). The Palestinians in Gaza and the Westbank may not have an ideal life but why do you think that Palestinians starving to death daily in Syria get no media exposure? (again one of the few links on the story is below) Why is one Palestinian shot in a terror attack in Israel more important than the 2000 who have died in Syria?

I'll tell you why I think this is.

I think that the way the SABC covers the Israeli/ Palestinian conflict is more about being anti-Israel rather than pro- Palestinian. Don't believe me?  Let me share a story with you.

Radio stations, news sites (such as News24.com), television stations and news services around the world subscribe to news agencies to source their information and bolster local news gathering. Reuters. Associated Press. You are probably familiar with the names if not directly with the content - news will usually be credited at the end of articles if it's from such an agency. News agencies sell news and primarily deal with international stories that is shared around the world with their subscribers - the people who distribute news.

Locally, and until recently, we used to have a news agency called SAPA. South African Press Association. The radio station that employs me used to subscribe to this service. Initially such an agency was useful in getting the notifications and contact details to set up interviews - critical for a radio station just starting out and without a contact database. Then something strange happened. We started seeing stories about Israel that were filled with opinion rather than fact. Stories that were so biased and ill researched that stories unrelated to Israel and the Palestinians also came into question. The SAPA news service eventually lost any credibility with us and the station unsubscribed from their offering. SAPA closed on the 1st of April this year.

There comes a time when even the non-critical thinker will stand back and go "huh?". We aren't there yet but it's coming. A story that comes to mind was the one recently about Israel opening it's southern dams and flooding Gaza. This was one of those "hogwash" moments when news agencies, AFP in this case, put out the story and didn't check the facts. If they had taken the time, they would have found that Israel has no southern dams and that the photographs were indeed from floods. Caused by rain. Who are you going to blame for that? God? I have included some links here for you. The youtube clip is particularly convincing, except it's a lie from beginning to end. I have also included some of the retractions. What's also interesting to note is that not every news agency that published or broadcast the story followed up with a retraction. The majority were happy to let Joe Public believe the lies and deception.

So lets get back to the actual issue of whether South African Media is pro- Palestinian or just anti-Israel. Why it should be either remains a mystery and is probably the subject of a future article. As the government broadcaster, is the SABC just towing the company line, so to speak? Aligning itself with state policy just as it did during Apartheid? If that's so, then how much credibility do we give the other stories they cover? And what of the stories we aren't hearing about? If our national broadcaster is pro-Palestinian and concerned about human rights for the Palestinian people then I soon expect to see reports on the plight of Palestinians in Syria, Lebanon and  elsewhere in the Middle East neighbourhood. If not then you and I have to be more critical in our thinking and do our own research in pursuit of the truth. The days of intellectual laziness are long gone.







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2010-11-21 18:15

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