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‘NYT’ focuses on fears of Hamas censorship but leaves out Israeli government’s threats

Today’s New York Times has an interesting story about a satirical political show in Gaza inspired by Jon Stewart. Headlined, “A Show Finds Humor in Gaza’s Headlines. Will Hamas Get It?” the article says the Gaza comics have screened their political show for hundreds at a theater, and aim to put the episodes on Youtube. But what about Hamas?

[T]owering over all of them is the question of how the Hamas government will react. Although the producers promise to skewer all Palestinian officials equally, the show is made in Gaza, where Hamas officials have clamped down on independent media.

“We’ve thought a hundred times about what will happen if we do this,” said Mohamed Alsawafiri, 31, the presenter, in real life an aid worker and father of three daughters. “If we are afraid, we can’t do anything.”

Reporters Diaa Hadid and Majd al Waheidi did talk to Hamas:

Mustafa al-Sawwaf, an under secretary in the Gaza Ministry of Culture, said Hamas would not object to the show if did not offend or use profanity. “The satire should not exceed the limits,” he said.

The program’s team hopes to tiptoe through sensibilities by skewering all Palestinian leaders equally.

No doubt, satirists seeking free expression may have problems with a conservative Islamist government. But there’s just one problem with the Times‘ account. The newspaper shouldn’t be running this story if it isn’t also covering a threatened “strike” by Israeli artists against what they call censorship by Miri Regev, the new rightwing cultural minister.

That story has gotten international attention. For instance, The Independent:

Israeli newspapers are calling [it] a “culture war” between the government and much of the country’s predominantly left-wing artistic community.

Ms Regev, a reserve brigadier-general who formerly served as the chief military censor, alarmed many artists after she took office in May by saying she would cut government funding to those who harmed the army or contributed to “defamation” of Israel.

The Financial Times has also reported the artists’ threat to “strike” over the “far-right” minister’s plans. It says that the censorship threat is only encouraging the international boycott campaign of Israel:

To vent their anger at Ms Regev’s proposed controls, they [the artists] are proposing organising a strike which — if it were to take place — would be the first of its kind. Hundreds of Israeli artists have signed a petition accusing the new minister of supporting “anti-democratic moves”…

The battle lines being drawn by Ms Regev in her culture remit echo the uncompromising stance taken by Mr Netanyahu’s new rightwing coalition in other areas, including the tough rhetoric it is using to discredit a gathering international boycott movement it accuses of delegitimising the Jewish state.

Ms Regev, a firebrand Likudnik and former military spokesman who once likened African asylum seekers to “cancer”, put artists on notice when she said: “I can decide where the money goes,” and: “The artists will not dictate to me.”

The Times of Israel says Regev has ramped up the rhetoric:

Culture Minister Miri Regev continued on Thursday to stoke the fires of conflict which has raged in recent days between herself and Israel’s artistic community, calling the country’s artists “tight-assed, hypocritical and ungrateful” people who “think they know everything.”

Artists from various fields have accused the new minister of seeking to limit freedom of expression in the country through anti-democratic measures, and have expressed outrage at her stated intention to defund institutions and subversive works that in her opinion “delegitimize” Israel.

The New York Times has assiduously avoided this story (even while covering one of Regev’s initiatives, the censorship of a play in Haifa). But this is the new intolerant Israel, complete with fascist currents, that Israelis consecrated at the polls in their latest election. America’s leading paper of record is refusing to convey this reality to its readers.

We’re all for reporting on Hamas’s (potential) intolerance. But don’t cover up the Israeli government’s actual attack on the nation’s artistic community, which is already well underway.

 

 

 

 

 

James North and Philip Weiss

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11 Responses

  1. ckg on June 20, 2015, 3:22 pm

    As far as I can tell, the NYT has also not mentioned Netanyahu’s threats to shut down Palestine 48 Channel, which will broadcast arabic-language programs.

    • ckg on June 20, 2015, 5:45 pm

      see JLD’s post below for more info on Channel 48. Thanks JLD.

      • ckg on June 21, 2015, 9:46 pm

        Just imagine the uproar if Univision or Telemundo were shut down.

    • on June 21, 2015, 10:57 am

      NY Times censorship far exceeds anything Hamas is capable of imposing.

    • a blah chick on June 21, 2015, 4:40 pm

      I thought I saw a story that they did shut it down.

  2. Froggy on June 20, 2015, 4:37 pm

    The NYT isn’t a newspaper. It’s a propaganda sheet.

  3. JLewisDickerson on June 20, 2015, 5:38 pm

    RE: “Artists from various fields have accused the new minister of seeking to limit freedom of expression in the country through anti-democratic measures, and have expressed outrage at her stated intention to defund institutions and subversive works that in her opinion ‘delegitimize’ Israel.” ~ TimesOfIsrael.com

    MY COMMENT: You ain’t seen nuttin’ yet! Dare I say “Gleichschaltung”? ? ?*

    * SEE: “Who Will Save Israel”, by Uri Avnery, zope.gush-shalom.org, 23 May 2015

    [EXCERPTS] THE BATTLE is over. The dust has settled. A new government – partly ridiculous, partly terrifying – has been installed. . .
    . . . Now the situation inside Israel proper is about to change drastically.
    Two facts attest to this.
    First of all, Ayelet Shaked has been appointed Minister of Justice. One of the most extreme right-wing Israelis, she has not made a secret of the fact that she wants to destroy the independence of the Supreme Court, the last bastion of human rights. . .
    . . . PERHAPS WORSE is Netanyahu’s decision to retain for himself the Ministry of Communication.
    This ministry has always been disdained as a low-level office, reserved for political lightweights. Netanyahu’s dogged insistence on retaining it for himself is ominous.
    The communication Ministry controls all TV stations, and indirectly newspapers and other media. Since all Israeli media are in very bad shape financially, this control may become deadly.
    Netanyahu’s patron – some say owner – Sheldon Adelson, the would-be dictator of the US Republican party, already publishes a give-away newspaper in Israel, which has only one sole aim: to support Netanyahu personally against all enemies, including his competitors in his own Likud party. The paper – “Israel Hayom” (Israel Today) – is already Israel’s widest-circulation newspaper, with the American casino king pouring into it untold millions.
    Netanyahu is determined to break all opposition in the electronic and written media. Opposition commentators are well advised to look for jobs elsewhere . . .
    . . . One cannot avoid an odious analogy. One of the key terms in the Nazi lexicon was the atrocious German word Gleichschaltung – meaning connecting all media to the same energy source. All newspapers and radio stations (TV did not yet exist) were staffed with Nazis. Every morning, a Propaganda Ministry official by the name of Dr. Dietrich convened the editors and told them what tomorrow’s headlines, editorials etc. were to be.
    Netanyahu has already dismissed the chief of the TV department. We don’t yet know the name of our own Dr. Dietrich. . .

    ENTIRE COMMENTARY – http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/1432296815/

    • JLewisDickerson on June 20, 2015, 5:43 pm

      P.S. SPEAKING OF “GLEICHSCHALTUNG”:
      “Netanyahu threatens new TV station for Palestinian citizens of Israel”, By Haggai Matar, 972mag.com, 19 June 2015

      [EXCERPT] Israeli Communications Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday declared his intention to shut down a brand new television station, “Palestine 48.” A day later, its employees and management vowed that they would not fold so easily. The station began pilot broadcasts on Thursday morning from Nazareth, and for the time being, its launch schedule is proceeding as scheduled.

      Israeli authorities — and the Netanyahu government in particular — have been targeting Arab cultural institutions in recent weeks, cutting off funding for an Arabic-language theater in Haifa and threatening to do the same to a children’s theater in Jaffa operated by an Arab actor.

      According to Sanaa Hammoud, a member of Palestine 48’s advisory board, the Netanyahu government is in the midst of a campaign to silence and exclude 20 percent of Israel’s citizens, ultimately de-legitimizing their citizenship itself. . .

      ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://972mag.com/netanyahu-threatens-new-tv-station-for-palestinian-citizens-of-israel/107971/

  4. peterfeld on June 20, 2015, 6:18 pm

    Political repression by the Palestinian Authority of critics who post comments to Facebook against its collaboration with Israel, which NPR was good enough to cover Thursday, would also be relevant to the NYT piece.
    http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2015/06/18/415189087/in-the-west-bank-facebook-posts-can-get-you-arrested-or-worse

  5. a blah chick on June 21, 2015, 4:57 pm

    The latest round in the “culture war” concerned Israeli Palestinian actor Norman Issa. He did not want to perform in a settlement with an theater group and Cancer Regev was having none of it. She said that she would cut funding to the children’s theater he ran with his wife if he did not go to the settlement. In the end Issa caved. The Times of Israel recorded the a tete a tete”

    -“The meeting was good and significant,” Regev said. “Issa is a wonderful person, I knew him before very passingly and liked him then but I like him even more today. It is important for me to say, Issa was offended by things that I said, and by the deluge of headlines and media fracas of the past two weeks.”

    Regev went on to praise the Elmina Theater, “where coexistence is the order of the hour.”

    She had no intention of “hurting” Issa or his theater, she said. “I saw our meeting as the end of this affair. The dialogue we held was a true show of freedom of expression and tolerance and I hope we will continue this dialogue in the future.”-

    It is perhaps not my place to say so but it’s “crunch time” in Israel and the opposition needs to step it up, and that means sacrificing their careers for their beliefs. The country is only going to get worse and there is no benefit kowtowing to the likes of Regev and her ilk. She smells blood in the water.

  6. DaBakr on June 22, 2015, 1:31 am

    so, afaict, the ‘big’ complaint is not with the ‘Zionist entity’ but that the NYT (everybody’s favorite newspaper to hate) didn’t run back-to-back articles about IDF/Hamas censors. And yet, the news about both stories has somehow got out. And , it would seem, the story about Ms. Regev has been covered bu multiple news outlets and the Hamas/Gaza story only by the NYT. Where is the ‘balance’ that is always whined about? The night can never win with MW. It covers a human interest story on Gazan’s lives that isn’t focusing on ‘terror’ and you have nothing but complaints. Terrible. Awful. Such sour bitter pills.

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