The Sheikh Jarrah protest movement pulled off an impressive demonstration on Friday (June 25 2010.) More than five hundred Israelis and Palestinians marched in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, to protest the planned demolition of 22 Palestinian homes.” Bernard Avishai has posted an interesting account of the event at TPM Café. Here’s a short video clip, which shows a powerful, non-violent, protest:
Israeli TVs didn’t show. Since the event was extraordinary, however, Channel Two TV News had to mention it in the evening newscast. Here’s the clip:
The script, delivered by aspiring politician Yair Lapid, is matter-of-fact:
Some five hundred leftist activists and Palestinians demonstrated this afternoon in the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem in protest of the approval by the Local Planning Committee in Jerusalem of the King’s Garden plan, which includes the planned demolition of 22 Palestinian homes in the neighborhood to make way for the construction of a new archaeological garden.
Channel Two did not have its own footage. They had options, however. It could have bought footage from the wires or Arab TVs, who were there in force. It could have approached the organizers and gotten free footage.
Instead, they used B Roll from the archive. Fair enough. They could have used, for example, their own footage from previous protests and marked it as archival.
Not only was the B Roll not labelled. It was highly unrepresentative of the event — prayers at an open-air mosque, followed immediately by children throwing stones at Police jeeps. End result: For the the lay viewer, the protest is associated with violence (preceded by Islamic religious incitement, no less).
Was this done with intentionally? As documented in-depth by Max Blumenthal last week and demonstrated in a Coteret series a few months ago, the Israeli mainstream media tends to serve as dutiful stenographers of government information, especially on security and foreign policy issues.
It’s doubtful if anyone was briefing in this instance, however. My hunch is that someone at Channel Two was pandering to his audience’s sensibilities (or to his own), consciously or subconsciously averting cognitive dissonance. For many months and years, Israeli audiences, of Channel Two TV in particular, have been subject to nightly conditioning: The only opposition to government policies on Palestinian issues is from violent Muslims and their lunatic-fringe Israeli sympathizers. Images of masses of young and “normal” Israelis (some of them religious!) marching peacefully to protest patent injustice, would move viewers outside their comfort zone, and on a Friday night to boot.
This is a large part of the answer to the question of where the Israeli peace movement has been for a decade. It would still be dormant if the new media had not allowed activists to break free of the restrictions of the MSM and top-heavy NGO structures. The demonstration at Silwan, like the dozens in Sheikh Jarrah that preceded it, was organized with nearly no outlay using Facebook and other social media.
Facebook also enabled many supporters who could not be present to support the demonstrators. Not only through the sharing of reports and images. On Saturday afternoon, one of the organizers — Daniel Dukarevich — sent out a note (Hebrew) describing what Channel Two had done and asking readers to e-mail the relevant ombudsmen with complaints. Twenty-four hours later, he reported that the Israel Press Council had received the largest number of complaints over a single incident ever and that Channel Two News had contacted him: They had gotten the message and really needed to unclog their inbox.