16 min read

Missions Matter; Mass Media Does Too: Protect our Right to a Free Press

To ensure the stories in illegal, occupied areas are shown in a good light, Empires stop at nothing and use The Force for evil. We the People aren't buying it.
Writing on the Israel/Palestine separation wall with graffiti
Photo by Ash Hayes on Unsplash, "Until justice rolls like water and righteousness like a mighty stream."

Free speech is under attack by The Empire. The Powers That Be will silence truth-tellers by any means necessary. In "The Case of the Watermelon Dissenters"—that sounds like another choose your own adventure book in the making—we're seeing this play out in real time. America's hypocritical domestic practices and abhorrent foreign policies are thinly veiled as democratic.

Less veiled, is Israeli censorship. They limit press, making foreign media illegal, and murder journalists with impunity. Israel uses their tiny foothold in Big Tech to suppress social media posts, troll and dox the opposition. They ignored their own "intelligence" even when they had blueprints for an impending Hamas attack.

Instead of calling out Israel's flagrant disregard for journalists, and how they squash free speech, (supposedly #1 on the list of requirements for a democracy), the U.S. looks the other way.

Both Israel and the U.S. have the same co-dependent Military Industrial Complex and Mainstream Media. They operate as co-conspirators, pedaling colonizer rhetoric everywhere. Whether it's Empire's influence over police or Op-Ed columnists shilling for The Man, their goal is universale: ensure voices of dissent are shut down.

Colonizers Political and Military influence on media goes back centuries. To ensure the stories in Palestine and other areas under illegal occupied by the British are shown in good light, they employ every tactic to prevent the truth from getting out.

As Mr. de Rothschild debated on the floor of the House of Commons, back in July, 1939, influence by military officials stifled free speech, via censorship of the press in Cyprus.

For a truly eye opening "trip" through time, read the full oral arguments from the House of Chambers July 7th, 1939 here. For more debates about Jewish refugees, issues with immigration and dissent from locals, refugee ships being turned away from Europe, Turkey, Palestine, and ultimately sunk, read the full June 6th, 1939 arguments here.

You can read about objections and dissent from Palestinian locals through the colonizer gaze. Hear Brits debate others in feigned concern for the people living there, or the poor wretched refugee Jews with no where to go. Note how they do so deftly, while making racist, supremacy arguments for why they couldn't "just" leave the Palestinians/Arabs in charge of their own country. Besides the Hon. de Rothschild, you may recognize another "Honorable Gentleman" speaker, Hon. Balfour.

These words from parliament give lots of critical insight into the mess we're in. In 85 years the doublespeak and lies from the British Empire haven't changed a bit.

That Israel claims to be a democracy is laughable. They have a literal Minister of Censorship, aka the "Chief Censor of the Israel Defense Forces." Their national right wing news channel, (worse than Fox), is the 2nd most watched station.

Their draconian laws around reporting and media are a glimpse of what losing a "free press" in totality looks like.

In December 2023, The Intercept released an exclusive report on an Israeli memo banning journalists from discussing 8 topics, including weapons used by the IDF, and stories of people held hostage by Hamas. As The Intercept noted, even Israel's censor felt their government's media crackdown was over the top.

"Concerns about the politicization of the military censor are not merely hypothetical. Last month, the Israeli censor reportedly complained that Netanyahu was pressuring him to crack down on certain media outlets without legitimate reason. Netanyahu denied the charge."

It may surprise you to know, the U.S. government has in fact acknowledged Israel's grave human rights violations, censorship, and attacks on journalists. While it includes more b.s. double speak about how Israel hasn't found their own defense forces guilty, it is clear "we" know what's happening. Officially, The White House's "2022 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Israel, West Bank and Gaza" is damning. Reports in American media about Israel's human rights violations? Not so much.

Under capitalism and imperialism, "free press" and "free speech" exercised via protests, publishing, or political statements will always be met with backlash. Why? Because The Powers That Be know if the people are heard, the Empire will fall.

Authoritarians will dictate permissible talking points, and redact anything they deem irrelevant. Israel seems to believe it can apply their rules to our media, our congress, our students, and our press.

Is it any wonder why Americans do not trust Mass Media?

They don't amplify our voices, tell our stories, or tell the truth.

Lucky for us, we sure AF do.

Citizens Journalists are United.

We know what we see, and we know why we keep fighting: fighting the Uncle Algo (the algorithm) and mainstream media, campaigns to discredit us, and weaponization of our Jewishness.

Kvetching about Uncle Algo and the ways that social media platforms erase certain voices is not because I am petty, greedy, or vain. It's because I take censorship VERY seriously, and algorithmic bias and Big Tech censorship is effectively quieting and de-platforming dissenting voices as we speak (and one more reason InfoDumpsterFire.com exists).

My goal in sharing long form pieces like this is to build awareness, to educate and arm you, and most importantly to inspire you to act. Every set of eyes on every "little" post matters. If it means it could save a life or give someone the will to #KeepGoing, I will share it.

As we've seen for the past few years, citizen journalists are not only very reliable sources of truth. They have accessible, on the ground, information when crises hit, and they move much faster than staff at big news outlets

Both Palestinian citizen journalists and "professional" journalists have been invaluable to understanding what's enfolding in Gaza and the West Bank. Besides awareness and information, they inspire A LOT of action.

This is why they've became enemies of the state, forced to hide, or flee, or watch their entire family be killed. Motaz, Bisan, and Al Jazeera's bureau chief Wael Al Dahdouh are just that good at their jobs–each of them nominated for prestigious awards for journalism.

Like our one Palestinian member of congress, censured for saying "Stop the genocide," their voices are powerful. They threaten the Empire's existence so much that the Israeli government would assassinate all of them while the U.S. supplies ammo.

Global journalist group says Israel-Hamas conflict is a war beyond compare for media deaths
A journalist or media worker is killed every day on average in the Israel-Hamas war. The head of the global organization representing the profession says this has become a conflict beyond compare.

Most of the journalists Israel is targeting are young. With 80% (or higher) unemployment, for many of them, reporting is all they can do. And in doing so, risk their lives exponentially. The other recipients of Israel's media killing spree: Al Jazeera journalists. That one speaks for itself.

The collective punishment they face in telling their stories confirms what we already know: Israel and the U.S. must have a lot to hide.

They label us "dissenters" when over 66% of Americans want a ceasefire in Gaza. But, only 4 6 Senators, have called for a ceasefire. 6 out of 100!

Congress needed enough votes to halt the flow of money of weapons to Israel. Sadly, they approved the military budget in full, and cut Aid to Gaza instead.

Why don't we call the Senators who aren't listening to their constituents dissenters? They are going against the majority sentiment. We the People are in charge, right?

How bad is it?

The Associated Press noted,

"With a journalist or media worker killed every day on average in the Israel-Hamas war, the head of the global organization representing the profession said [in December, 2023] that it has become a conflict beyond compare.

By that time, they had already killed "close to the same number of journalists killed during the entire Vietnam War... Other brutal wars in the Middle East have not come close to the intensity of the current one."

While families of journalists are murdered, American "leadership," (including the "Commander in Chief") pretend it's just another day in Oz, or on the Death Star. No one wants us to see behind the curtain, or the Mask, because if we know who's responsible, we'll work to hold them accountable, and share the information widely.

The collective punishment they face in telling their stories confirms what we already know: Israel and the U.S. must have a lot to hide.

Sadly, "The Media" is in on "it." Politicians and corporations don't want to hold them accountable either. Trump unleashed a torrent of lies (20,000 in his first 18 months). Trumps attacks on "fake news" and the "radical left media" are fascist defaults that opened the flood gates to denigrate the press.

Social media platforms like X became cesspools for hate speech and misinformation, driving journalists to leave them en mass (or by Musk's force). This sadly didn't stop with Trump. Our right to share media freely via TikTok (and any other social platform) is now conflated with the right to share lies, misinformation, defamation, and racist, zionist, sexist hate speech.

Meanwhile, more than half of Gen Z get their news from TikTok. Social media IS media, and it contributes to, or hinders the spread of real stories, propaganda, and the ability for journalists to do their jobs.

In 2021, I celebrated the return to "normalcy" in watching White House press briefings in my feed, (along with Wanda Sykes). My relief did not last. Yesterday's pop in by Marc Hamill, to distract from the 2,0000 thousand arrests were made at campus protests, was not a welcome May 4th Press Core "treat." The Empire's America's media stunts evidently, like Luke, has used the force for evil.

Tweet from Wanda Sykes January 2021 about a Presidential press conference. On red background.
Tweet from Wanda Sykes January 2021 about a Presidential press conference.

Now, when I see Blinken or Biden answer press questions, I cringe. The volume of lies told straight faced to credible journalists and the American people as if we are all pinball wizards is next level. I wince as they hire Black women to do their dirty work. They allow press to use their melanated faces as the stand in for a lying, amoral administration.

The Dems are as bad as the GOP, (and both are as bad as the Siths). They think they're successfully hiding the truth while flattening heritage sights, kidnapping children, and systematically destroying their places of worship. They think we're buying their bullshit story.

Look at college campuses and social media. We most certainly are not.

While the U.S. government, and mainstream media stay silent, Israel continues to kill journalists almost every day. The New York Times Review Board has not even mentioned the attacks on journalists or our fragile free press.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) states plainly, Israel has a "Deadly Pattern" when it comes to targeting and killing members of the press. And, like this current "war" Israel's targeting of journalists didn't start in October 2023.

In a special CPJ report from May 2023 they note, "The killing of Abu Akleh, one of the Arab world’s most beloved and recognizable journalists, was not an isolated event."

Since 2001, CPJ has documented at least 20 journalist killings by the IDF. The vast majority  – 18  – were Palestinian; two were European foreign correspondents; there were no Israelis. No one has ever been charged or held accountable for these deaths."

[CPJ] began recording journalist deaths in 1992 - they say this war has led to their deadliest month on record, in December. It's nearly doubled since then, 56 to 92 Palestinian journalists killed, but this number is way higher from other agencies.

CPJ numbers of Journalists Killed 12/4/23, 4/4/24 and 5/3/24 (toggle here)

As of December 4:

  • 63 journalists and media workers were confirmed dead: 56 Palestinian, 4 Israeli, and 3 Lebanese
  • 11 journalists were reported injured
  • 3 journalists were reported missing
  • 19 journalists were reported arrested
  • Multiple assaults, threats, cyberattacks, censorship, and killings of family members

As of April 5:

  • 95 journalists and media workers were confirmed dead: 90 Palestinian, 2 Israeli, and 3 Lebanese.
  • 16 journalists were reported injured.
  • 4 journalists were reported missing.
  • 25 journalists were reported arrested.
  • Multiple assaults, threats, cyberattacks, censorship, and killings of family members.

As of May 3:

97 journalists and media workers were confirmed dead: 92 Palestinian, 2 Israeli, and 3 Lebanese.

  • 16 journalists were reported injured.
  • 4 journalists were reported missing.
  • 25 journalists were reported arrested.
  • "CPJ is also investigating numerous unconfirmed reports of other journalists being killed, missing, detained, hurt, or threatened, and of damage to media offices and journalists’ homes."

The mainstream media tries, and fails to hide the truth in absentia. But, we have other ways of getting information and know a rat when we see one.

Vox media stated in May 2022 what we already knew about journalist Shireen Abu Akleh's murder. Shireen "covered occupied Palestine for two decades...She was killed doing her job." We saw her murder on camera in cold blood with "no armed Palestinian fighters nearby."

Israel claimed she was caught in crossfire, but there was no fighting where she stood. Snipers hunted an American journalist; our government did nothing. We watched in horror as the funeral became another place of "conflict"—another moment of disrespect for Palestinians and press alike.

Per the Anadolu Agency in Turkey, the death toll of journalists murdered was nearly 3x as high as in December. As they reported April 30th, "Another Palestinian journalist killed in Gaza, death toll rises to 142 since Oct. 7."

The Israel-Hamas war led to one of the deadliest years for journalists on record, says advocacy organization
The Committee to Protect Journalists says the first month of the war, which began on Oct. 7, was the deadliest month for journalists since the group began its work in 1992

Israel, backed by the U.S., is enacting mass extermination of a people, in the name of "G-d" they look straight at the camera and later try to tell us we didn't see what we thought we saw, thanks to reporters in Gaza being the eyes and ears for the world. This is clearly the least holy thing anyone, including a Jew like me, could even imagine.

"The deadliest day of the war for journalists was the first day, October 7, with six journalists killed; the second-deadliest day was November 18, when five were killed.

Israel's military has told news agencies AFP and Reuters that it cannot guarantee their journalists' safety - after the agencies had sought assurances their workers would not be targeted by Israeli strikes." -BBC, Dec 4th, 2023

Can Israel even call these "targeted airstrikes"?

Is this their way of admitting journalists are some of the targets. They cannot guarantee their safety with giant PRESS across their vests–yet they have drones and precision weaponry? It doesn't make sense, because it's a crime.

‘Silencing Palestinian Voices’ - Three More Journalists Killed by Israel in Gaza
Three more Palestinian journalists were killed in Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip on Saturday, bringing the death toll to 136.

A headline like this is almost an every other day occurrence. (from March 2024)

Beyond the CPJ and Reporters without Borders, other media outlets and human rights organizations call bull shit.

Per the Anadolu Agency in Turkey, the death toll was nearly 3x as high as CPJ's December number. In April 30th, AA reported "Another Palestinian journalist killed in Gaza, death toll rises to 142 since Oct. 7."

It's hard to grasp how unprecedented what Israel is doing here truly is. To give you a sense of scale, per the same media outlet, AA's headline today read, "45 journalists killed in Yemen since fighting erupted in 2015."

Yemen has faced a harsh roll back in their press and platform access. "The Yemeni Journalists Syndicate on World Press Freedom Day said 165 press platforms stopped working and 200 local and Arab news websites have been blocked since 2015."

Of course, murder isn't their only crime, as another AA headline noted on World Press Freedom Day. "4 Palestinian female journalists detained in Israeli jails; 53 Palestinian journalists held in Israeli prisons, detention facilities, says Palestinian Prisoner Society."

Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, co-founder of British group Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL), had a few words on Israel's "heinous crimes" extending to journalists. Her interview summed up how ‘World powers [are] allowing Israel to keep killing Gaza journalists to hide war crimes’

“It’s very clear that they are trying to prevent the news about … what they are guilty of in Gaza reaching the rest of the world, so they have banned outside journalists from going into Gaza to see what’s happening,” she told Anadolu in an interview in London.

“So, the fact that there are courageous, heroic journalists working there is obviously a serious problem for them, and they are trying to silence these people.”

The bigger issue she raised is the same one I would raise: Where the fuck is the fucking U.S.? Where are the defenders of freedom, democracy and our fucking human rights? Of course, she said it without the F bombs.

“It’s horrendous that this is allowed to go on. The major powers, the US and European countries, allow this to go on, even while their people are marching on the streets to demand that it stop,” she said.

Reporters without Borders reported asked it this way. "More than 100 journalists killed in six months in Gaza – where is the international community?"

As part of the international community, I dissent. I condemn the killing of writers, photographers, journalists, reporters, researchers, and their crew.

STOP murdering journalists (and kids, aid workers, ambulance drivers, men, women, families, doctors, pets, babies, and anyone else). Stop destroying journalists equipment. STOP TARGETING DOCUMENTARIANS. It will not prevent people from finding out the truth and holding violent people accountable; it merely delays justice.

Ignoring of the attacks on journalists won't make them go away. We hoped The Powers That Be would finally speak the hell up when the kids called bull shit. But watching the College protests, the arrests of Jewish students and professors alike, brutal attacks by Proud Boys while cops stood there, no such luck.

From cops to our military, our violence is a mainstay. The U.S. is complicit in cover ups. Hell our presidents and state officials meet with regimes who knowingly, brutally killed their own journalists who were close to exposing the truth.

Time Magazine, who named "The Guardians" (aka journalists) as Time's "Persons of the Year" in 2019, shared a question that gnaws me daily. "Who do we trust to tell the Story?"

"Every detail of Jamal Khashoggi’s killing made it a sensation: the time stamp on the surveillance video that captured the Saudi journalist entering his country’s Istanbul consulate on Oct. 2; the taxiway images of the private jets bearing his assassins; the bone saw; the reports of his final words, “I can’t breathe,” recorded on audio as the life was choked from him.
"But the crime would not have remained atop the world news for two months if not for the epic themes that Khashoggi himself was ever alert to, and spent his life placing before the public. His death laid bare the true nature of a smiling prince, the utter absence of morality in the Saudi-U.S. alliance and—in the cascade of news feeds and alerts, posts and shares and links—the centrality of the question Khashoggi was killed over: Whom do you trust to tell the story?"

Who Do You Trust To Tell the Story?

“UNESCO reports that in the past fifteen years, there have been some 750 attacks on journalists and news outlets reporting on environmental issues. And the frequency of such attacks is rising.” -UN Secretary General

The U.S. cannot even condemn the attacks on the press, or at least back U.N. Secretary General Gutierrez. The media won't either.

There is only one explanation why they won't say it. The U.S. doesn't want their own complicity in war crimes reported. It's the same reason they let the murders of Khashoggi or Abu Alekh slide.

The current federal administration, for all our hopes, is no different than the previous one in many regards. Both are responsible for America's deeper descent into fascism. Regardless of who wins the next election, both have done irreparable damage to our access to a free press and right to assemble.

They control our speech, our social media feeds, congress, and the C-suites. But, there's still a big difference. If Trump wins, the free press will be eliminated, just like Israel did. We already have the consolidated media, just like Israel.

"Most of Israel’s media outlets are owned by large corporations or businessmen who are difficult to investigate and who use them to pressure regulators and elected officials." —Reporters without Borders

Despite the current state of atrocities, and everything I've said here, I still fervently hope they beat the orange guy so we have some "PRESS" left. I stand with Palestine, and the democratic protections we all should have, not with the U.S. war crimes (which every single President to date is guilty of).

The U.S. will continue to invest in us not knowing. It's the autocrat's criminal way. Do not let this be a foreshadow of our media to come, but a wake the fuck up moment of why we have to get louder.

Democracy depends on citizen journalism, citizen activism, and protecting our rights to vote and voice our support or dissent.

Fighting the empire is a collective act. It's on us.

As U.S. citizens, we must demand our first amendment rights be defended and protected. Demand an end to U.S. weapons (or any weapons) killing those who tell the story.

I'm responsible, too. Why else would I spend my Shabbat evening writing about the attacks on our free speech, journalism, and genocide? Technically 4,000 words on freedom of speech is not my j.o.b., but demanding this stop is everyone's responsibility.

As mainstream media spreads the weaponization of antisemitism, I echo what Jewish Labour activist Miriam Margolyes said about speaking up about Palestine. "For me, it's not a political choice - it's a moral imperative. I cannot allow things to be done in my name as a Jew which I know to be evil.  And I must be allowed to say so without being branded as a 'self-hating Jew'."

What else can you do? A lot.

  1. Download these amazing Palestine Resource Guide: (Updated 5/2) Protest Safety Guide: May 2024 from FLOWLab member, Robin Divine. Pay her for the labor.
  2. Donate to independent media and news sources and pay for subscriptions. Yes, this includes bloggers and smaller publications. Funds=fuel to continue to analyze, report, and stand up to censorship. Yes, this includes mine.
  3. If you're an independent writer/blogger, know your rights. You can learn more here, or check out the tools from the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) on Blogger and Other Creator Rights.
  4. Freelancers working for news organizations see above and check out this Freelancers Guide to Issues Around Violence, too.
  5. Join a News Safety Cohort. If you are a newsroom who is in progressive spaces, you're facing risks when you research and report. The IWMF is now accepting applications for their 2024 News Safety Cohort. Last years cohort included the pro-Palestine, anti-zionist media platform, Jewish Currents.
  6. Protect yourself and speech online. For more resources and articles on safety x tech x activism, check out Rage 2 Rainbows resources here.
  7. Respect student journalists.
  8. And, always amplify the voices of the people closest to the cause.

A free and fair media is essential for democracy. If they continue to target press the way fascists are known to, it's going to get worse.

Sadly, shitty mainstream media reporting "nice people on both sides" is not all we stand to lose. If we lose the press, we lose our votes next. Without free speech, democracy will die.

Even as they threaten to silence you, use your voice before it's too late. Not in our name. Not on our watch. Never again is now.

May the 4th, and force, be with all those who fight the imperial core.

Free Palestine.