This week, US President Joe Biden visited Israel and the Palestinian territories. During his visit, he met with the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas where Biden mentioned the recent killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and spoke about defending press freedoms while failing to address the people who are abusing the media.
The killing of Shireen was a tragedy, and it is right that an investigation takes place to find out what went wrong. However, there is no doubt this tragic event has been highly politicised to smear Israel.
During his press conference with Abbas, President Biden said that Shireen Abu Akleh “was performing the very vital work of independent media and vital work of democracy; her death is an enormous loss to the essential work of sharing with the world the story of the Palestinian people. I hope her legacy will inspire more young people to carry on her work of reporting the truth and telling stories which are too often overlooked.”
He then stated that the US will “continue to insist on a full and transparent accounting of her death and will continue to stand up for media freedom everywhere in the world.”
There are a few issues to take with Biden’s statement. First of all, Palestinian media is not “independent”. The truth is that the Palestinian Territories is one of the worst places on earth for media freedom, not because of the actions of Israel but because of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.
According to the Media Freedom Global Index, the Palestinian Territories is ranked 170th out of 180 for being the worst in media freedoms, far worse than Israel which is ranked 86th.
To put this into perspective, the Palestinian Territories are listed next to Syria, Iraq and not fairing much better than Iran and North Korea, which has the least press freedom on earth.
There is a very big difference between the freedom of the press in Israel and the freedom of the press in the Palestinian Territories. However, President Biden failed to address this.
Second, he made it appear that the work of Palestinian media groups was “vital work of democracy”, when the Palestinian Authority is not a democratic entity. Mahmoud Abbas was elected to serve four years, he’s now on his fifteenth year. If it were any other place, it would be called a dictatorship.
Thirdly, it claims that Palestinian media reporting is accurate, which is sadly not the case.
The media company Shireen Abu Akleh worked for is Al Jazeera, which is known to not be trusted when dealing with news on Israel.
The news agency is funded by the government of Qatar and has been involved in many controversies such as slanted journalism and anti-Israel bias. This comes as no surprise when you understand that Qatar is the country that funds the Hamas terrorist organisation more than any other and has hosted recent meetings with the terror group. You do not send hundreds-of-millions of pounds to a terrorist organisation and support their work if you don’t support their stated aim, which is the destruction of Israel.
Finally, Biden’s words made it appear that Israel was not only to blame for Shireen’s death (something that has not been confirmed), but that Israel is also to blame for attacking media freedom while the Palestinian Authority are not to blame. This is completely at odds with reality.
President Biden made it appear that he was standing alongside the Palestinians in defending press freedoms from Israel’s alleged wrongdoings when the reality is that the Palestinian Authority are the ones who restrict the freedom of the press and use lies and disinformation to smear Israel.
While the death of Abu Akleh is a tragedy, there is no doubt it is being used to attack and smear Israel and we would have hoped America’s leadership would be wise enough to know this. Sadly, it does not appear to have been the case.