Archive for Dezember 2009
Von amerikanischen Gewerkschaftlern erhielt ich folgende Nachricht (in englisch):
Japanese Journalist/Videographer Protests Israeli Restrictions On Journalists
I protest against the restriction on journalists imposed by the Israeli Government.
Toshikuni Doi, the journalist
One year has passed since the Israeli invasion of Gaza, which left around 1,400 dead and more than 5,000 injured. Even for someone like me, who had been covering news on the ground in Palestine and in Israel since 1985, these scenes of destruction and massacre were unprecedented.
My three-week efforts to gather stories on the ground following the “end” of the attacks on Gaza resulted in my appearing on a television show on NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) and publishing a booklet from Iwanami Shoten. I also exhibited my video work at World Press Photo 2009 and reported on the situation in numerous meetings and rallies in Japan. At the same time, in the spring of 2009, I showed to the Japanese public a documentary entitled “Breaking the Silence.” The film provides the firsthand accounts by former soldiers of the Israeli Defense Force of the kind of oppression that is going on in the Israeli-occupied territories.
A few months later, in late August, I made my habitual visit to the Press Bureau of the Israeli Government in Jerusalem to apply for a press card. Without the card, I cannot enter the Gaza Strip, which is occupied and sealed off by Israel. The Government, however, refused to issue a press card to me. That represents the first such refusal to me for the last twenty years or so in which I covered stories in Palestine. The Press Bureau said “The assignment letter you submitted comes from a documentary production company and not from a news organization. A press card cannot be issued for producing documentaries.”
But the fact is that they had given me a press card twice in the past for a similar assignment letter from SIGLO, the same documentary production company. The only difference at this point from the two previous occasions, however, was that it came right after the showing of my film “Breaking the Silence” and my reporting on the attacks on Gaza.
Three months later, in November 2009, I made another application for a press card, this time, with an assignment letter from a news organization. But again they refused, without giving me any reason for that.
I learned later that an Israeli newspaper, Israel National News, quoted Danny Simon, the Press Bureau Chief, in its November 30th edition, as follows:
“The Government Press Bureau Chief Danny Simon said in an interview with Arutz Sheva that Israel will not recognize anti-Semitic journalists who don’t report the truth. He stressed that there are journalists who purposely lie and serve as a fig-leaf for Hamas. “
That seems to suggest that a major reason for their denying me a press card is because I am regarded as one of those “anti-Semitic journalists who don’t report the truth.”
But I have to tell you that I have always done my utmost to be accurate about what I report as a journalist, gathering information and making sure of its accuracy on the ground. I can guarantee that I never “purposely lie” nor “serve as a fig-leaf for Hamas.” On the contrary, I make it a point to report negative aspects of the Palestinian side such as corruption in the Palestinian Authority and the strong-handed rule by Hamas. At the same time, I depicted Israelis from different perspectives. My documentary “Todokanu koe” (Unheard Voices: Palestinians, Israelis, and the Occupation) is a case in point. This tetralogy evokes the reality and the inner feelings of those Israeli citizens who lost their loved ones or had them injured due to suicide attacks. There are also those Israelis who have a sense of crisis and oppose “occupation,” believing that it would lead to the collapse of the ethical and moral values of the Israeli society. I portrayed their struggle also in my film.
The fact that my accounts of the Israeli attacks on Gaza beginning one year ago are not biased is born out by reports that followed them. They came from such sources as Amnesty International and a fact-finding mission of the United Nations and accused Israel for mounting attacks that are “serious breach of international law.”
I have always made sincere efforts to report those facts that I think need to be reported in the interest of a genuine resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and never for the sake of so-called propaganda for the Palestinians. That is because I believe that the military attacks and the occupation by Israel would not only bring pain and tragedy to the Palestinians but could also lead to the collapse of the ethical and moral values of the Israeli nation and lead eventually to the elimination of the possibility of their own security and peace. I therefore cannot possibly accept that I’m labeled as one of the “anti-Semitic journalists who don’t report the truth.”
Without a press card, I cannot enter the Gaza Strip even if I want to cover stories there. When I was a student, I stayed at a kibbutz, a collective farming community in Israel. At a suggestion by a friend, I visited a refugee camp in Gaza. That was 32 years ago. My first encounter with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was when I was asked by one of the refugees “Do you know who used to own the land on which the kibbutz now stands?”
I began reporting the situations in Palestine and Israel as a journalist in 1985. Since then, I have visited Gaza on countless occasions to continue to gather stories there: before and during the first Intifada (Palestinian uprising), during the Gulf War, and following the Oslo Agreement, the start of the provisional Palestinian Authority, corruption of the Arafat Administration, the second Intifada, and the withdrawal of Jewish settlements. I went there during the second Lebanon War. I was also there to witness political rule by Hamas, suffering under the blockade, and the military attacks. I always tried to be on the ground to report the life under occupation and the firsthand accounts of people on the ground. In the process, you might say, Gaza made me grow as a journalist and as a person.
Israel’s refusal to grant a press card to me is now beginning to rob me of the bond I spent more than 20 years to build with people in the Palestinian communities. The desperate feeling I have now about this situation is almost indescribable.
For many years, people in the Gaza Strip have been living in a sealed off environment and under occupation. They cannot freely go out of Gaza for work, study, or even for medical treatment. The situation does not allow them to be united with members of their own family who live abroad. Of course, I cannot compare my case with the gravity of their situation, but now that I am being deprived of the freedom to visit the area, I’m becoming painfully aware of the depth of their suffering.
A close colleague of mine, who has covered the Middle East over the years, wrote to me as follows:
”There may be a need for someone like you, who is robbed of the opportunity to work on the ground but continue to work as a journalist, complaining as a stakeholder in the conflict about the illegitimacy of that kind of treatment. I think your situation is part of a larger problem than that of just a journalist deprived of chances of reporting what is happening in Gaza. That is because it’s related precisely to what the occupation is all about.”
His words awakened me to the very fact that being denied a press card and deprived of the ability to be on the ground means that I am now a “stakeholder in the Israeli-Palestine conflict” and that I have to fight the “Israeli occupation” as a journalist.
The issue does not just concern me alone. Many other journalists, who are willing to report the damages caused to the Palestinians and the true facts about Israel, may be subject to the same kind of restriction on their reporting, being labeled as “anti-Semitic journalists who don’t report the truth. “
In order for me to continue to be a journalist and to be on the ground of Palestine, I intend to use such means as press conferences, symposiums, rallies, and a petition campaign to protest against the Israeli Government’s media control and demand that the Israeli Government should respect the legitimate rights and the freedom of journalists.
I sincerely ask for your support.
On December 27, 2009,
the first anniversary of the start of the 2008 attacks on the Gaza Strip