Tuesday, 9 June 2015

A Jewish reporter in Gaza responds to Jane Eisner

Today, Jane Eisner, editor in chief of the of The Jewish Daily Forward wrote a piece called “Why the Forward Sent a Brave Reporter to Gaza,” in which she described the decision to send their Middle East correspondent, Naomi Zeveloff, to Gaza for a three day reporting trip. She writes that the decision to send Zeveloff, who is Jewish, was “mulled over for many months” and required “complex planning.”

Eisner’s assumption is that Gaza is a dangerous place for a Jewish journalist to visit, even for a couple of interviews on a subject as non-controversial as psychological trauma. This viewpoint is shared by Eisner’s colleague at the Forward, JJ Goldberg, who put it into blunt terms last summer while debating The Electronic Intifada’s Ali Abunimah on Democracy Now!, claiming “I’d be shot” upon stepping foot into Gaza. Ironically, Goldberg’s claim is a succinct description of Israel’s “buffer zone” policy, in which any Palestinian who walks within a loosely-interpreted 300 meters of the border is shot by an Israeli soldier or remote-control machine gun.

As a journalist who happens to be Jewish and having spent almost four months on the ground in Gaza including the last weeks of the war last summer, it is clear to me that Eisner knows nothing of reality on the ground in Gaza. More than anything else, Eisner’s hysteria over sending Zeveloff to a place where journalists – Jewish and gentile — make regular visits, exposes her anti-Palestinian racism.

Eisner wrote about a rocket launch Zeveloff heard while she sat in a beachside hotel as “a frightening introduction to everyday life in Gaza.” Zeveloff featured a quote from an interviewee saying the rocket is the “soundtrack to Gaza.”

Since the final ceasefire last summer, however, rockets have been few and far between. If there is a soundtrack to Gaza, it is the incessant hum of drones and roar of F16s punctuated by Israeli gunfire and the laughter of children.

It is notable that Zeveloff’s piece doesn’t mention the subsequent 3am bombing campaign that was heard much farther away than that rocket. Following that night’s bombing, I visited Khuza’a, a village several miles away where Palestinians, whose homes across the street Israel flattened, are reduced to living in a caravan of shipping containers. A resident of the shipping containers, Ahmad Qudeh, told me his two-year-old son cried during the night that it was time to flee, again. Days later, two twelve-year-old neighbors told me that the bombs were so loud that they were certain Israel was targeting their building — a reasonable thought after Israel bombed Gaza’s landmark towers hours before the final ceasefire took effect last summer. more


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