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Press Freedom Matters Everywhere

Since the invasion of Ukraine by Russia several weeks ago, there has been an outpouring of admiration and outrage for the brave journalists who’ve risked, and sometimes given, their lives to report what’s happening on the ground in this war of aggression. Journalists, as part of a free press, are the lifeblood of representative governments, ensuring that people both at home and abroad can gain the proper perspective on world events without succumbing to the onslaught of propaganda that governments (private and public) use to obscure their immoral and often illegal actions. Yet while it seems obvious to most Americans, the bravery and service performed by the journalists in Ukraine, there is an odd cognitive dissonance experienced by many, especially in our media and political sphere, when identities of the opposing sides change. Case in point, the brutal and senseless murder of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, by the Israeli military. Shireen was clearly identified as press, wearing both a “Press” helmet and vest: she was shot in the face. This is not the first or even the dozenth Palestinian journalist killed by the IDF. In fact, over 45 journalists have been killed by the IDF since 2000! It’s a clear pattern of lawless intimidation, meant to silence the brave men and women reporting on the apartheid state Israel has created. This was especially clear when the Israeli forces attacked the mourners of Shireen Abu Akleh as they carried her casket down the street. Tragically, American elites appear unable to recognize the common threads between the oppressive activities in the Russia-Ukrainian war, and the occupation of Palestine. When asked, the Biden Administration demurred, and attempted to claim that they were supporting an investigation into the killing led by the IDF. From the outset this was an absurd position to take, especially with the flagrancy of the killing, and the utter one-sidedness of the “investigation,” and it garnered widespread condemnation by organizations supporting occupied Palestine. Unsurprisingly, news of the “investigation” had barely finished the rounds before new reports circulated announcing that Israel would not, in fact, be holding a criminal investigation into the murder. While Americans generally cannot directly affect the policy decisions of other nations, the impunity with which Israel acts on the global stage, lies at least partly at the feet of the United States historically unconditional support for Israel. The American people support press freedoms and journalists no matter where they come from, and it is far past time for our leaders to begin reflecting that reality, by making our continuing military aid contingent on the respecting of human rights by the IDF and Israeli government at large. We know from the past, that Apartheid regimes are rarely broken from the inside, but require global economic solidarity, to break the repressive governments. What we need is not just political power, but economic leverage, to curtail arms sales to Israel and bring them back from an authoritarian state. So join us each Tuesday in growing solidarity with all journalists and oppressed peoples, and DSOT! #UPM #DSOT

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