Try as I might, I cannot get over the story of Basil al-Adraa and Channel 12 News.
Basil is a young Palestinian living in one of the most difficult places in the occupied West Bank. Against all odds, he has become a journalist and is rapidly turning into a rising star, all while facing violence from settlers and soldiers who threaten the lives and livelihood of his community in the South Hebron Hills.
In June, he published a groundbreaking investigation into a grisly murder of a Palestinian that forced the Israeli police to launch an inquiry.
Basil is now having to face Channel 12 News — the most powerful journalist outfit in Israel, which leads in ratings and wields unrivaled influence over public discourse.
In the context of this power imbalance, and without giving the matter a second thought, Channel 12 News goes ahead and publishes a complete fabrication about Basil based on false reporting by a far-right settler outlet. They claims that he set fire to a Palestinian structure, that he tried to blame it on settlers during a pogrom on the village of Mufagara last week, and that he was arrested for it. By perpetuating this lie, Channel 12 is attacking a fellow journalist, a colleague, and a person who dedicates his life to courageously documenting and telling the truth about the impossible conditions he and his community live in.
Channel 12 is accusing Basil of arson and lying despite absolutely zero evidence, and without doing their basic journalistic duty of even asking him for comment. It seems they didn’t spend even a moment thinking about the possible consequences their colleague might confront for these preposterous allegations, by being arrested or attacked by soldiers and settlers.
Even after we at +972 Magazine approached them after publication to defend our writer, Channel 12 shrugged us off by saying that they had asked the IDF Spokesperson for comment instead. As if this is somehow relevant. As if it were a substitute for basic journalistic integrity. As if Basil is not a human being who deserves to be treated with dignity. As if they cannot fathom that there are people who would love nothing more than to silence Basil, and that by broadcasting these lies on prime-time television they are helping to do just that.
Perhaps the saddest aspect of this story is just how accurately it reflects the way the Israeli media views Palestinians: as inferior subjects. It is a reminder of the way the regime’s apartheid policies are mirrored by its journalists in their day-to-day reporting and analysis. Perhaps I should be used to this by now, but as someone who believes in the positive role the media can and should play in uncovering wrongs and speaking truth to power — it is difficult for me to accept. Extremely difficult.
But in stark contrast to the poor journalism of Channel 12 News, there is Basil, who hasn’t for a moment stopped fighting against one of the most powerful institutions in Israel in order to clear his name. His steadfastness in the face of Channel 12’s deceitful behavior has served as a personal inspiration. Basil remains faithful to his journalistic calling and continues to report from the ground and expose the brutality of an army that cuts the water supply to impoverished Palestinian villages, and of the settlers who carry out pogroms with near impunity. Most importantly, he is there to write about the communities that stand up to apartheid and violence with dignity.
Lastly, a word of thank you to you, our readers. Without the support we get from our global community, we could not have hired Basil and other reporters on the ground to write for +972 Magazine and Local Call, nor could we have offered them the legal and organizational backing they need. If you are not already a member of our community of supporters, please consider joining today.