NPR blames the victim: Emad Burnat brought suffering to Bil’in by filming occupiers

Israel/Palestine
on 66 Comments

An appalling report on the great film “5 Broken Cameras,” by Larry Abramson of NPR last night, suggested that filmmaker Emad Burnat had brought violence upon his tiny occupied village, Bil’in, by seeking to document the oppression.

Here (thanks to Susie Kneedler) is the end of his report:

ABRAMSON: [Hamza] Suleiman [20, a photographer in Bil’in] says that Israeli soldiers are more frightened of cameras than of the stones that are often thrown at them. But his camerawork has already cost Suleiman and his family a lot. He’s been hit by gunfire and spent 11 months in prison. His mother, Fatima, says she wishes he’d put the camera away…

It’s a complaint that Emad Burnat’s wife also makes during “5 Broken Cameras” as she questions the price her family must pay for his project. In this lasting conflict, cameras are an important witness to suffering, but they also may be the cause of some of it.

A journalist questioning the rightness of journalism! When that journalism is a means of documenting oppression, no less.

I see the NPR’s commenters are all over this. Thomas Antenucci writes eloquently:

“Sometimes it’s [the cameras] that cause suffering”…. What a
stunning example of blaming the victims.

Do we hear the Syrians blamed for photographing the brutality of the Assad regime? Only with Israel does NPR blame the victims
for daring to witness their oppression as the settlements steadily expand and grab more land.

The filmmaker is shot, beaten and imprisoned. His mother wails in fear. And his camera “caused” this suffering?

Abramson should find work at Fox News, not NPR.

The other disturbing thing about Abramson’s report is that it presented the conflict as an even-handed one, in which settlers are also whipping out cameras to document Palestinian lies. And that in the actual broadcast (not included in the transcript), Abramson also said the following:

“Palestinians argue that the barrier has cut them off from agricultural land and effectively serves as a border slicing through territory the Palestinians believe should be part of a future state.”
 

Do they argue that, or do they state it as fact? Why is NPR treating Palestinians as tendentious when it comes to basic human rights? One listener has written to say that Jews should not be assigned to cover this conflict. An inevitable, unfair response; but the reasonable question is, Is Abramson a Zionist? It’s time for the media to discuss the influence of this Jewish-nationalist ideology born amid the nationalisms of 19th century Europe in contemporary Jewish and American life.

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