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Palestinian Journalist: Israeli Media Incites Mob Violence, Ignoring Settler Attacks

Web ExclusiveMay 18, 2021
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In Part 2 of our interview with Palestinian journalist and activist Rami Younis, he describes how Israeli media has contributed to mob violence in recent weeks. Younis was invited to speak with the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation about the situation in his hometown of Lyd, which was under a state of emergency, and sparred with the anchor, Dov Gil-Har, telling him, “I won’t be your pet Arab to punch around.” This comes after an Israeli mob in the city of Bat Yam was shown on live TV attacking a driver who they suspected of being Palestinian. “We know that Israeli media, whenever there is another massacre in Gaza, whenever something is happening in Jerusalem, we know they start reciting the official party line of the Israeli government,” says Younis. “But what is happening now is more than dangerous.” Younis also discusses the historic general strike Tuesday in the occupied West Bank, Gaza and inside Israel.

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The Quarantine Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González, as we bring you Part 2 of our conversation with the Palestinian journalist and activist Rami Younis. As the Israeli bombing of Gaza enters its ninth day, Palestinians across the occupied West Bank, Gaza and inside Israel are staging an historic general strike.

For more, we are going to Haifa in Israel to speak with Rami Younis. Last week, Rami was invited to speak with the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation, or Kan, on the situation in his hometown of Lyd, which was under and is under a state of emergency. During the interview, he sparred with Israeli television anchor Dov Gil-Har, telling him, quote, “I won’t be your pet Arab to punch around.” This is a part of their exchange.

DOV GIL-HAR: [translated] You’re telling me that I need to accept these rioters with love? That I should embrace them?

RAMI YOUNIS: [translated] No, no, no. I had a few conditions for doing this interview, and I would appreciate it if you would raise your standards a little bit, from an anchor who speaks the way you do, to respecting my requests as your guest on the show.

DOV GIL-HAR: [translated] I understand that you want to replace the host. The Public Broadcasting —

RAMI YOUNIS: [translated] I asked that you refrain from showing a split screen. Dov Gil-Har, I asked before coming here — and I have a way to prove it — not to show on the split screen the same images that you have been running for the past 24 hours. I sent you a lot of materials of Jewish rioters attacking homes, people, women and children, of officers in the police’s special unit joining them in these attacks in Ramle and Lyd. And you’re not showing that. … I’m trying to tell the full story. I’m trying to give the context you haven’t been giving for three days in Israeli medias, including at the Public Broadcasting Corporation. And I don’t expect you to do this, but at least give me my 10-minute slot.

DOV GIL-HAR: [translated] No, it won’t be 10 minutes. Sorry.

RAMI YOUNIS: [translated] Give me three minutes to provide a background on everything that’s happening now. You’re not interested in learning. You’re not interested in having the Jewish audience understand what’s been happening.

DOV GIL-HAR: [translated] Do you have any criticism toward the Arab residents? Perhaps you don’t. Perhaps you think it’s all justified. Fifteen years ago, we oppressed them, and it’s all surfacing now. And then you’ll say it’s understandable, that we must accept it.

RAMI YOUNIS: [translated] What you’re doing now is the same as when they bring an Arab to speak on Israeli media. And they’ve been doing this for years. They bring an Arab after what you call a “nationalistic” event and ask him to condemn, condemn, condemn. No! You condemn the killing of Musa Hassouna by a settler —

UNIDENTIFIED: [off screen] [translated] Why? He’s a rioter.

RAMI YOUNIS: [translated] — a man who was shot by live fire, and the talk right now is that he might have been shot by a sniper. …

DOV GIL-HAR: [translated] Burning a school, burning cars —

RAMI YOUNIS: [translated] Do your job as a journalist.

DOV GIL-HAR: [translated] Thanks for teaching me.

RAMI YOUNIS: [translated] I won’t be your pet Arab to punch around.

DOV GIL-HAR: [translated] Thanks for the class in journalism.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s our guest, Rami Younis, on Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation, or Kan, trying to talk about the situation in his hometown of Lyd, which at the time was under a state of emergency. Rami, if you can talk further about how the situation is presented on Israeli television?

RAMI YOUNIS: Yeah, Lyd is still under a situation of emergency. And it’s just I’ve never seen Israeli media act and perform so poorly. And they have evolved from trying to silence people like me, Palestinian journalists, into silencing Israeli journalists who try to expose the truth about what’s happening in Lyd. And this is — in a way, this is unprecedented. We know that Israeli media, whenever there’s another massacre in Gaza, whenever something is happening in Jerusalem, we know that they start reciting the official party line of the Israeli government. But what’s happening right now is more than dangerous.

During that live broadcast, that you showed a very short clip from my interview with Dov Gil-Har — but there’s more to that story, actually. You know, Amy, we counted that guy, Dov Gil-Har, incite against Palestinians, inciting to kill, to shoot and kill Palestinians who are demonstrating in Lyd, eight times. He did that eight times. And this is not — this is not a rare event, unfortunately, these days on Israeli TV.

Even an Israeli journalist, Yisrael Frey, who’s a Hasidic Jew, went on Israeli TV, another channel on Israeli TV, but it was still a mainstream channel, a big one, the biggest one, actually, N12, and when he tried to expose the truth about what’s happening in Lyd, when he started talking about buses of settlers, you know, busing in people from Yitzhar and Nokdim — and these guys are pros in setting olive groves on fire and burning Palestinian houses. These people are moving to Lyd. These people are allowed to break curfew. There’s a curfew right now in Lyd, and the only people allowed to break that curfew are these groups of Israeli settlers. They are escorted by Israeli police. They are allowed to roam free at night.

Why? Why? Why isn’t anyone asking that question on Israeli media? And if you do find someone who is interested in doing their job and ask these questions, they’re immediately silenced. So, if you want to learn more about how structural violence is maintained and nurtured in Israel, just go to the media. Just go to their media and see what happens there.

And one more thing that’s very important, why — I mean, they could claim that they are diverse, that they’re progressive, and that they are interested in having Palestinian or Arab guests. Well, that’s a lie. You know, I mean, Fox News bring liberals and progressives all the time to their network. That doesn’t make them actually progressive. The sole purpose in bringing in an Arab for their shows is to try and punch them, basically, to show to the Israeli audience that, “See? We’re with you. We represent you. We are here publicly 'lynching'” — you know, quote-unquote — “'lynching' the token Arab in front of you. And we will not allow them to say what they want to say. But instead, we will say what you guys are thinking in your heads.” And unless the situation changes, it’s going to become even worse.

Just to give you one more tiny example on how Israeli media operates these days, you know, Itamar Ben-Gvir, the new MK from the Religious Zionism Party, who’s a known Kahanist, a Jewish supremacist, who lives in Hebron, this guy, not only he comes to Lyd every time, and not only during the mess in Jerusalem, in Sheikh Jarrah, when people were taking to the street there during the popular uprising — moved his offices to Shaikh Jarrah neighborhood. You know that Itamar Ben-Gvir was invited — got 509 minutes of broadcast on Israeli TV in the last two weeks, Amy. In the last two weeks. You know how many minutes I got? Five. Itamar Ben-Gvir, again, got more than 500 minutes on Israeli TV, while other Arabs get — if they do get any minutes, they get only just a few minutes, and they’re not allowed to speak.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Rami, I wanted to ask you about the — what we talked about earlier, the general strike that is planned. In terms of this unprecedented situation of Palestinians within Israel, as well as on the West Bank and in Gaza, the entire Palestinian people are coming together in a general strike of this kind. Talk about how unprecedented that is. And do you see this as a pivotal moment in this struggle?

RAMI YOUNIS: Of course, of course. Thank you for asking that question. You know, last December, I was sitting with a friend here in Haifa. And we were very depressed, very much depressed. There was another COVID lockdown, and it was right after the normalization accords. You know, my friend and I basically were mourning. We said, “OK, that’s it. We lost. I mean, the political — the Palestinian cause is done for. Maybe we should just, you know, throw in the towel.”

What’s happening these days, what’s happening right now, what happened last week with Jerusalem, Sheikh Jarrah and the uprising in all over Palestine, including the decision to strike from the river to the sea, to go on strike from the river to the sea, is not only — it is precedented. It happened in 1936. But it happened in 1936. You know, it happened a very long time ago. So, the fact that this is happening now, the fact that the uprising, it started with young people, people under the age of 20 — I mean, you’d go to these demonstrations, I wouldn’t recognize most of the people there. You know, they were young people, teenagers, a lot of them. So, in a way, what happened right now is another rise of the Palestinian cause. The Palestinian cause is not dead. And the last two weeks, I think, pretty much proved it.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And in terms of the response throughout the rest of the Middle East, Dr. Mustafa Barghouti was talking about the difference between where the Arab leaders are and where the street or the people are. What’s your sense of the impact of the last few days on the the rest of the Middle East?

RAMI YOUNIS: Yeah, yeah, that’s a difficult one. We expect more. We expect more. We have been seeing masses taking to the street in Lebanon and in Jordan, and that’s fantastic. But, obviously, we don’t expect much from Arab leaders. I mean, they have been disappointing us for decades. And why should they act differently now?

What I have been noticing is a shift in the States. I’m talking to journalists, like all day long. That’s what I do. They keep calling me. I keep doing these interviews. I feel that American media outlets are interested in hearing us out. And this is a first. This is a first. This is a new thing also for us. We’re dealing to deal with it now. What do you do when you go on CNN, and they actually allow you to speak? So, I really feel that, you know, if we’re talking on how what’s happening in Palestine is affecting other places, I’d like to focus on the States, because what’s happening in the United States — and I have many friends in America. I lived in Boston for — I just came back, actually, from Boston a few months ago because of COVID. But what we’re seeing in the States is unprecedented, I think, and this should be capitalized.

I mean, we have to keep talking to Americans, because we have to let Americans know what their taxpayers’ money is going for: not only bomb children in Gaza, not only help Israelis settle in the West Bank and demolish Palestinian houses, but also targeting and persecuting Palestinian citizens of Israel. You know that they actually started, by the way — and I forgot to mention that before — do you know that they actually started marking Palestinian houses in Haifa and in Lyd? You know, Israeli right-wing rioters come during the day. You know, they just — they’re searching for Arab houses in Haifa and in Lyd so that they can mark and come later on that night and attack. People need to hear all of this. People need to know that this is what the American administration is supporting.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you about what happened in the Israeli city of Bat Yam, an Israeli mob shown on live TV attacking a driver who they thought was Palestinian. The man was dragged from his car, attacked, left bleeding on the ground, after what the Israeli media described as an attempted lynching. In other parts of Bat Yam, large groups of Israelis were seen vandalizing Arab-owned businesses, and on live TV you saw some of these mobs chanting “Death to Arabs.” I mean, this is reminiscent of Kristallnacht back in World War II, the attacks on Jews during the Holocaust.

RAMI YOUNIS: Well, yeah. And what’s — I mean, just, you know, as another proof to what I said before, that the Israeli establishment and the Israeli legal system and the Israeli police are working hand in hand against the Palestinian population, is what happened yesterday. A hundred and sixteen indictments were brought to Israeli court. All of them were against Palestinian people who took to the street. You know, Amy, how many indictments were brought to court against Israelis? Zero. I mean, let me correct myself. Two indictments were brought to court today against Israelis, but that’s just a drop in the ocean.

Now, regarding that lynch attempt that you were describing in Bat Yam, that was on live TV. That was on live TV. There was a TV reporter there, and the TV reporter interviewed the people who were committing the lynch. One of them did the interview shirtless. He had blood on his hand, and he was screaming at the microphone, “I want to kill Arabs! I want to murder them!” What happened to that guy? Why isn’t he in jail? Why isn’t police doing anything about it? That was on live TV.

AMY GOODMAN: Last question. There is a debate going on, unusual in the U.S. Congress, a Democratic Party divided. You have people like, well, the first Palestinian American congresswoman, Rashida Tlaib, taking to the floor of the House, giving an impassioned speech, and this $735 million expedited weapons sale to Israel now being questioned, Congressman Meeks in New York, who has long supported Israel, talking about a delay of those weapons, and clearly putting pressure on Biden — though he did not demand a ceasefire, apparently talked with Benjamin Netanyahu about wanting one. Is the subtleties of this division being conveyed in the Israeli media?

RAMI YOUNIS: No, no, no, not at all. No. What is being conveyed in the Israeli media is that the Americans are greenlighting this. And although Biden is not the biggest fan of Benjamin Netanyahu, right now they are still OK with what’s happening. Maybe in a couple of places that are considered more professional and more — I don’t want to say — I hate using the word, but I’m going to say it anyway — progressive, like Haaretz, yeah, they are saying that. They are saying that. They are pointing out these little subtleties.

But again, that’s not enough. The American administration has to put all of its weight on the Israeli government and to stop this. Amy, almost 70 children died in Gaza. What are they waiting for? Enough.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you, Rami Younis, for being with us.

RAMI YOUNIS: Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: Palestinian journalist and activist based in Haifa, originally from the city of Lyd. To see Part 1 of our discussion, go to democracynow.org. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González. Thanks for joining us.

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