They attacked the mourners because they weren’t in the casket
Immediately after Israeli soldiers executed Al-Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu-Akleh and fired at a group of her colleagues, observers began asking how such a horrible thing could happen. Why would Israel murder a journalist well-known throughout the Arab World? A noncombatant wearing appropriate press gear? A high-profile Palestinian with U.S. citizenship? At best, it seemed like a terrible PR move. It didn’t make any sense.
Except it did make sense. In fact, from a certain point of view killing Abu-Akleh was painfully sensible.
It’s natural to seek rational explanations for what appear to be mindless acts of violence. Explanation is contingent on material conditions, though, and so we have to understand the situation in context of Zionist settler colonization. Using the humanistic logic prevalent in most civil societies, Israel’s conduct was baffling. Its soldiers murdered a civilian in full view of people whose job is to report news. Those soldiers had to know that they couldn’t keep their act a secret, that targeting journalists would result in worldwide outrage. And yet they did it anyway.
To arrive at an answer, we have to discern the colonizer’s psyche. We’re not dealing with normal civil society standards, first of all. The relevant context is military occupation. In such a context, gratuitous state violence is normal. Obviously, killing Abu-Akleh has the immediate benefit of silencing a prominent voice of Palestinian resistance, one that had long exposed Israeli crimes of aggression.
There is more to the story, however.
We also have to explore the assumptions underlying a desire for simple explanations. By asking for reasons over and over again, observers seek answers to incongruous questions. In so doing they’re apt to tacitly implicate the victims in their own suffering. The journalists must have done something. There had to be a provocation. Israeli soldiers don’t just shoot innocent people for the hell of it.
But that’s exactly what Israeli soldiers do. Israel has murdered around fifty journalists over the past two decades. One or two might be an aberration. Fifty is a policy.
We needn’t turn to the victim’s behavior for answers to the colonizer’s violence. He is violent because of colonization.
So there’s no need to seek legible reasons for Abu-Akleh’s murder according the rationale of civic decency. The settler doesn’t need a “reason” to kill the native. The settler kills because deracinating the native is a precondition of his social identity. It is a function of his legal status and class position. Israeli forces viciously attacked a crowd carrying Abu-Akleh’s coffin—abusing our beloved martyr even in death—which only affirms the fact that the settler kills precisely when confronted by the native’s vulnerability. There is a higher purpose to his violence. The settler doesn’t kill simply to produce death; he kills to negate the native’s existence.
Israeli forces attacked Abu-Akleh’s corpse because killing her wasn’t enough. They needed to expunge her from a land they claim by divine mandate. Her body impedes a mythological birthright underlying the settler’s entire sense of self. She has to be rendered nonexistent in order for the settler to survive. Such is the logic of desecrating ancient Muslim cemeteries and planting flora over the ruins of ethnically cleansed Palestinian villages.
The same forces attacked hundreds of mourners not because they were unruly, but because they weren’t also in the casket.
The settler’s violence, in short, is endless. It is the only way he knows how to be a good citizen. And it is the only way, in the end, he can imagine a meaningful existence.
Steve Salaita is a scholar, author and public speaker born in Bluefield, West Virginia.
Shireen Abu Akleh was fatally shot while covering an Israeli army raid on the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank. Credit: Al Jazeera, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Video broadcast by Al Jazeera, Shireen Abu Akleh’s employer, captures the sound of gunfire and yelling as Ms. Abu Akleh and her colleagues came under fire while covering an Israeli army raid on the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday.
The footage does not show the moment when Ms. Abu Akleh was shot, but after audible gunfire in the first few seconds, a man can be heard yelling: “Ambulance! Ambulance!”
The filmer moves closer, and Ms. Abu Akleh is seen lying motionless face down as a man and another journalist, identified by the network as Shatha Hanaysha, try to reach Ms. Abu Akleh but are forced back by gunfire.
In the footage, both women are wearing protective vests marked “Press” and helmets.
Another Al Jazeera journalist in the group, Ali Samoudi, was shot in the back. From the hospital, he said that they were clearly identified as journalists before the attack. “We were obvious,” he said.
— Sarah Kerr, New York Times
Today, Israel assassinated Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. Shireen is the face of Palestine for Al-Jazeera, the world’s most-watched Arabic-language media outlet.
Early this morning, she dressed in her press vest and helmet to once again cover the everyday horrors of Palestinian life under brutal occupation.
To be clear, Shireen was not simply executed by a single bullet precisely delivered by a single sniper. She was executed by a racist apartheid movement built on the notion that Palestinians are foreigners in our own land. Based on the belief that we don’t deserve life. And if you’re American, like I am, like Shireen is, that sniper’s bullet, and his elite training, were paid for by you and me, with the full support of our leaders.
Shireen is a daughter of Jerusalem and Bethlehem. She is a voice for the voiceless. An example. She is every Palestinian’s sister. She has told the truth about Palestine for over twenty years. And today, Israel decided that she had said enough.
And yes, I will keeping talking about Shireen in the present tense. I will never say “was” about her. That’s what they want. But they don’t get to steal her from us.
And they don’t get to steal her truth either. As if on cue, Israel immediately started telling everyone she was shot by Palestinians, while a number of Palestinian eyewitnesses and fellow journalists all told the same story: There were no Palestinians, only Israeli military, in the area.
But see, this has been Israel’s game for 74 years. They have always tried to convince you that we Palestinians have all been telling the same, unchanged, coordinated lies since 1948.
Since Israeli snipers brutally killed renowned Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in Jenin yesterday, I—and many other Palestinian people around the world—cannot stop thinking of her.
Shireen is a legendary voice exposing Israeli war crimes against her people, and the Israeli state murdered her for it. Multiple eyewitness journalists report that Israeli snipers targeted Shireen in her press vest and shot her in the head, near the ear where her helmet didn’t protect her. This is not an accident. It is a targeted assassination by the same Israeli regime that our tax dollars fund by the billions.
“Shireen Abu Akleh, Trailblazing Palestinian Journalist, Dies at 51,” reads the original headline in the New York Times, as if she had died a peaceful death. Such passive voice headlines completely fail to name the Israeli regime as the actor responsible for killing Shireen, whitewashing state violence. The NYT article quoted Israeli spokespeople’s lies early on without question, while burying statements from eyewitnesses and human rights group B’Tselem.
The result of this harmful reporting is devastating, because it gives the Israeli regime a free pass to continue murdering journalists and the Palestinian people with impunity.
We must hold media outlets accountable to telling the truth. Email the New York Times now using this JVP Action tool:
Shireen’s killing comes as we honor the 74th anniversary of the Nakba—Israel’s mass ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people in 1948 that continues to this day—and the first anniversary of the Unity Intifada.
This weekend, you can join protesters around the world taking to the streets. Find actions here, and carry these posters honoring Shireen and demanding justice for Palestine, from Jenin to Gaza to Masafer Yatta.
We resist until liberation and return. Thank you for taking action in the streets and by holding media outlets accountable.
This coming weekend marks 74 years since the Nakba (Catastrophe) of 1948, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine that continues to this day.
There will be a rally in Madison on Sunday, May 15, 1:30 pm at Lisa Link Peace Park, 452 State Street.
Please join us and wear your traditional Palestinian clothing and keffiyehs, and bring your flags!
Need a keffiyeh? Stop by Palestine Partners (Booth 78 on State Street between Gorham and Johnson Streets) at the Madison Night Market on Thursday, May 12th to buy a genuine Palestinian Hirbawi keffiyeh and to check out all the great items made by Women in Hebron!
It is especially important this year to show opposition to the Israeli court decision that just cleared the way for mass expulsions of thousands of Palestinians in the Masafer Yatta area of the West Bank and the destruction of their homes, farm and community buildings, lands, and flocks. In fact, Israel has just destroyed over 20 structures in the area.
If you haven’t already, please sign the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) petition to Congress opposing the destruction of the eight villages in Masafer Yatta.
And be sure to watch Palestine 1920: The Other Side of the Story, a fantastic new 45 minute documentary from Al Jazeera that explains how Palestine was prosperous, fully occupied, and as modern as any other part of the region before British and then Israeli colonialism took it over.
Because in the words of comedian Amer Zaher, Palestine was Akhaduha Mafroosheh: Fully Furnished.
Washington, D.C. | www.adc.org | May 11, 2022 – Early this morning in Jenin, Occupied Palestine, revered Palestinian voice Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian American journalist for Al Jazeera, was assassinated by Israeli Occupation Forces snipers. Her brutal murder was caught on video by other journalists accompanying her as they covered Israeli forces attacking Jenin. This is a war crime by international law, and just another instance of Israel using American tax dollars to further censor and oppress Palestinian voices.
Shireen was an iconic voice that covered the occupation for over 20 years. Her name resonates in every Palestinian home, globally. Those in the diaspora looked to her for news of our homeland. An inspiration for women looking to become journalists themselves, she paved the way for so many to follow in her footsteps, leaving behind a legacy that will continue to outshine the occupation which killed her.
On World Kuffiyah Day, we remember Shireen and the many other Palestinian journalists that put their lives on the line to combat the censorship western media routinely propagates when covering the occupation. We remember the millions of Palestinians living under Israeli apartheid, suffering from forced evictions, ethnic cleansing, and lack of basic human rights.
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) calls on the President Biden, Secretary Blinken, and the entirety of the Biden Administration for a full, independent, and international investigation into the assassination of Shireen. Complete transparency and full accountability for this war crime against an American citizen is necessary. Additionally, as Americans we call on the U.S. Government to stop all military aid to Israel, who uses our tax dollars to perpetrate these atrocities. Now is the time to put pressure on the Israeli government and stand up for Palestinian human rights.
On Wednesday, May 11, 2022, Israeli soldiers shot and killed 51-year-old Palestinian-American Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Shireen Abu Akleh. U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides and State Department spokesperson Ned Price called for a thorough and immediate investigation and for those responsible to be held accountable. But, the U.S., including the Biden administration, doesn’t have a record of holding Israel accountable.
U.S. military aid to Israel should be immediately suspended and Israel must not be allowed to investigate itself.
We the undersigned are horrified, saddened, and outraged at the killing of Palestinian-American veteran journalist Shireen Abu Akleh by the Israeli military. We call for a thorough investigation — not by Israel — and the immediate suspension of U.S. military aid to Israel.
Shireen Abu Akleh was covering an Israeli military raid in the Jenin refugee camp when she was shot in the face and killed. She was wearing a blue protective vest and helmet, both clearly marking her as press.
In a video showing the immediate aftermath of Shireen being shot, a man can be heard yelling, “injured! Shireen, Shireen, oh man, Shireen! Ambulance!” Al Jazeera journalist Shatha Hanaysha, also wearing a helmet and vest marked as press, can be seen crouching down trying to reach Shireen but being forced back by Israeli gunfire. The soldiers “did not stop firing even after she collapsed,” Hanaysha said. “I couldn’t even extend my arm to pull her because of the shots. The army was adamant on shooting to kill.”
Following Shireen’s death at their hands, the Israeli military said on Twitter that they were investigating the possibility that Shireen had been killed “by Palestinian armed gunfire.” However, documentation by Israel’s largest human rights organization B’tselem, shows that this was not the case. Israeli military spokesperson Kochav Ran on Army radio accused Shireen and her colleagues of being “ armed with cameras” and Israel’s Foreign Ministry offered to conduct a joint investigation with the Palestinian Authority into Shireen’s “sad death.”
We know all too well from previous times the Israeli military has “investigated themselves” that such actions are a farce. We call for the immediate suspension of U.S. military aid to Israel and a thorough and impartial investigation of Shireen’s murder.
Please see that justice is obtained for Shireen Abu Akleh.