Thursday, July 26, 2007
by John Pilger
"One of the leaders of demonstrations in Gaza calling for the release of the BBC reporter Alan Johnston was a Palestinian news cameraman, Imad Ghanem. On 5 July, he was shot by Israeli soldiers as he filmed them invading Gaza. A Reuters video shows bullets hitting his body as he lay on the ground. An ambulance trying to reach him was also attacked. The Israelis described him as a "legitimate target." The International Federation of Journalists called the shooting "a vicious and brutal example of deliberate targeting of a journalist." At the age of 21, he has had both legs amputated.
Dr. David Halpin, a British trauma surgeon who works with Palestinian children, emailed the BBC's Middle East editor, Jeremy Bowen. "The BBC should report the alleged details about the shooting," he wrote. "It should honor Alan [Johnston] as a journalist by reporting the facts, uncomfortable as they might be to Israel."
He received no reply.
The atrocity was reported in two sentences on the BBC online. Along with 11 Palestinian civilians killed by the Israelis on the same day, Alan Johnston's now legless champion slipped into what George Orwell in Nineteen Eighty-Four called the memory hole. (It was Winston Smith's job at the Ministry of Truth to make disappear all facts embarrassing to Big Brother.)
While Alan Johnston was being held, I was asked by the BBC World Service if I would say a few words of support for him. I readily agreed, and suggested I also mention the thousands of Palestinians abducted and held hostage. The answer was a polite no; and all the other hostages remained in the memory hole. Or, as Harold Pinter wrote of such unmentionables: "It never happened. Nothing ever happened... It didn't matter. It was of no interest."......."