Palestinian politician explains the media’s ‘double standards’ to BBC presenter

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The UN has described the Israeli occupation of Palestinians as “apartheid”, and likened the situation in Gaza to an “open-air prison”. Israeli forces have killed thousands of Palestinian civilians. And yet the media is almost always more favourable towards Israeli politicians than it is towards Palestinian ones.

On Sunday 22 October, veteran Palestinian politician Dr Hanan Ashrawi laid out the issue in an interview with the BBC‘s Victoria Derbyshire:

Read on...

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Double standards

In the interview, Derbyshire said:

I wonder if you do have to acknowledge the barbarity – the brutality – of the attack on Israelis in Southern Israel by Hamas before this can move forwards?

Ashrawi responded:

Oh god [shakes head]. I mean I can’t believe I’m hearing this same thing over and over again. This is a preoccupation with the Western media because something happened to Israel for the first time in its history everybody’s up in arms, and its [Palestinian] victims have to condemn themselves.

While it’s hardly the “first time” something has happened to Israelis, the attack did result in Hamas killing an unprecedented number of Israelis – 1,405. On the Palestinian side, of course, high casualty counts are the norm. The following chart – provided by Statista – shows the unbalanced nature of the situation over a 12-year period:

Ashrawi continued [0:29]:

Israel has been doing this to us for decades. Piecemeal, day in, day out, people killed, homes demolished. And we’re telling you how many Palestinians have been killed by a brutal Israeli occupation. Total siege on Gaza; total destruction and land theft in the West Bank. Nobody brings… Israeli spokespeople and says ‘do you condemn this? Isn’t this brutal? Isn’t this genocide?’ No. But the moment people under siege look at Gaza – it’s an area where people haven’t had a day of normal life – and then, when they lash out; when they break out, immediately all sorts of horrific labels are used.

Ignoring all that, Derbyshire asked:

Were the Israeli citizens legitimate targets?

After a short exchange, Ashrawi answered:

No, I don’t believe in civilians being legitimate targets at all – at all. In the same way as we are not legitimate targets of Israel. Our homes, our lands are not at [Israel’s] disposal; our freedom, our rights have been denied. No, don’t put words in my mouth.

“Okay” Derbyshire responded quietly before Ashrawi continued:

Civilians are never legitimate targets, but what I’m talking about is the double standard. Israel is an occupying power. This has to be acknowledged. Israel has been torturing the Palestinians since 1947. It is time this stops, without constantly looking for excuses and blaming the victim.

The future

The ideal situation for all is one in which Palestinians do not have to live in “apartheid” conditions. It’s a situation which will be impossible to realise unless the oppressive conditions that Israel is subjecting Palestinians to are openly acknowledged.

Featured image via BBC – screengrab

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