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Sunday, June 13, 2021

Guardian Omits Harsh Criticisms of Hamas From Its Piece on Gaza Photojournalist’s Book

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The Guardian has a piece on palestinian Arab photojournalist Jehad al-Saftawi’s book My Gaza. For the most part, it is what you’d expect from the Guardian, mostly focusing on the actions of those “evil Israelis.” But there are also small glimpses of what Hamas are capable of.

Working as a journalist in Gaza, says Palestinian photographer Jehad al-Saftawi, is like walking barefoot in a field of thorns. “You must always watch where you step. Each neighbourhood is composed of its own intimate social network, and travelling through them with a camera makes you a significant suspicion.

“You’re caught between the two sides of the conflict: the rulers of Gaza limit what you can photograph and write about, imprisoning and torturing those who disobey. At the same time, the Israeli army sees you as a potential threat that must be eliminated, as has been the fate of many Palestinian journalists.”

“My story is in part the story of my father, Imad al-Saftawi, who raised me with violence and fear, and who, after his 18-year imprisonment in Israel, was set free in December of 2018.

You’d be forgiven for being surprised – until you realize just how much the Guardian left out. And we know this, because I included some extracts from the book over three weeks ago. The parts in bold are what the Guardian decided to now not include:

My name is Jehad al-Saftawi. I am a photographer and journalist. For years, I clung to the idea of fleeing my country for the Western world. There is no free press in Gaza. Most of the news channels cater to political parties that use violence to silence opposition. I come from a place overflowing with weapons, where my father could easily buy a pistol and shoot it into the air while cruising the streets of our city. A place where, on any night, you could be awoken by a bomb exploding in your neighbor’s home, stored there by a member of their family who belonged to an armed faction.

Working as a journalist in Gaza is like walking barefoot in a field of thorns. You must always watch where you step. Each neighborhood comprises its own intimate social network, and traveling through them with a camera makes you a significant cause for suspicion. You’re caught between the two sides of the conflict: the rulers of Gaza limit what you can photograph and write about, imprisoning and torturing those who disobey; at the same time, the Israeli army sees you as a potential threat that must be eliminated, as has been the fate of many Palestinian journalists.

Our father, Imad al-Saftawi, grew up in an ultraconservative middle-class family that was heavily influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood. As an adult, he spent many years participating in armed struggles, both within and outside the framework of Palestinian armed organizations, which he believed to be justifiable resistance to the Israeli occupation. As a member of one of the leading armed factions in Gaza, Islamic Jihad, he killed innocent Israelis.

I condemn these actions, though many in Gaza consider my father a hero, one who carried out valiant operations for the sake of his country and religion.

I am sure it is no coincidence that the passages they omitted are the ones that paint Hamas in the worst light. Just like I am sure the Guardian is anything but an objective news outlet.

Hat tip: Tomer



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