Friday, July 11, 2008

'Why the AP Story on Mohammed Omer is LACKING in Journalistic Integrity'

By Robin ∙ Under the Holly Tree ∙ July 10, 2008

Under the Holly TreeFollowing below are my own personal efforts to try to get the MSM in the US to cover what occurred to prize-winning Palestinian journalist, Mohammed Omer at the hands of the Shin Bet when returning home from a multi-capital tour of Europe where he received the prestigious Martha Gellhorn prize and addressed the parliaments of Great Britain, Sweden and Greece. I am writing this out of sheer frustration, because after working at this since this happened to Mohammed, the MSM here finally covered it in a very POORLY written article which shows the clear bias and lack of journalistic integrity on the part of the Associated Press.

Eight days ago, Wednesday July 2, I began pestering the AP to cover what had occurred to prize-winning Palestinian journalist, Mohammed Omer at the hands of the Shin Bet at the Allenby crossing. This was four days after I had contacted Rory Suchet by phone at the international desk of CNN Los Angeles. At the time I first contacted Rory on Saturday June 28, there was not that much information concerning this horrendous story. He asked me for Mohammed's phone number which I gave him after he said that it sounded AWFUL what had occurred. So by Wednesday, when I contacted Barbara Whitaker by phone at the Associated Press in New York (and CNN was still not covering it), there was much more information to give, links to statements, articles, and phone numbers of who to call to verify this incident.

On July 2, last Wednesday, when I reached Barbara Whitaker by phone, I gave her a synopsis of this event. Then she stated, "I don't know if we have received this story before and taken a pass on it".

I stated to her clearly, Mohammed Omer is not only a prize-winning journalist, he is your collegue Barbara, and the European tour of various capitals where he spoke to three different parliaments (Britain, Sweden and Greece) was coordinated by an American publication for which he is the Gaza correspondent (WRMEA). This is the story of the abuse of your fellow journalist, it REALLY needs to be covered."

She asked me to forward her everything I had, so I did. I also forwarded this information to Rory at CNN and to Amrita at the Real News (who also have not covered this story yet) who I also spoke to on the phone.

Yesterday the Israeli Government Press Office released a statement denying any abuse of Mohmmed Omer. The first place this press release appeared in English was HERE, a blog belonging to the Jewish Federation of Des Moines, Iowa. More than twenty four hours after this press release was supposedly released, it still does not appear on their English website. Since I cannot read Hebrew, I have no idea if it is on the Hebrew website for the Israeli GPO. But doesn't it seem odd that this "press release" is not on their English website? They responded to another reporter covering this story that yes, it is their press release. Why is it, that while it is the English press who in the GPO's own words has regretably given credence to Mohammed's allegations and reported them, why have English readers not been given the respect of even posting their press release in English on their website? Also, why is it that they refer to the West Bank as "Judea and Samaria"? There's a simple answer to that one: "Judea and Samaria" is the term used by the right wing zionists because they see these lands as part of Eretz Israel, Arab occupied land rather than the obvious, Israeli occupied lands which supposedly are to belong to the Palestinians as their own state in a two state solution.

Today, the Associated Press published their article which first showed up on their own site, then Fox, many others following, and just a little while ago MSNBC. It is written by Karin Laub who did interview Mohammed.

Karin Laub wrote, "Palestinians have long complained about rough treatment at Allenby. However, Omer's allegation of being forced to strip naked appeared unusual."

UNUSUAL? Strip searches at Israeli checkpoints and Ben Gurion are COMMON. Read what occurred to Jaleh Tahiri, an American senior citizen (not Arab or Jewish) and watch a 10 minute video on this COMMON occurance HERE. (five women brave enough to bare themselves again by revealing what happened to them while undergoing this humiliating experience-listen hard to what occurred to Hedy Epstein and the other women)

What really concerns me about this article, is that NO WHERE were people written about as being interviewed who could corroberate the fact of Mohammed's condition after crossing Allenby except for a statement from a Dr. Husseini who claims there were no signs of physical trauma. Where are her interviews of the Dutch who were accompanying Mohammed to Allenby, who waited the 4 1/2 hours while this was occurring to him and who then picked him up from the hospital in Jericho to take him to the Eretz crossing, home to Gaza? I told Barbara Whitaker these people were essential witnesses and needed to be interviewed, to get that info from the gentleman at the Hague. Where are her interviews of the doctors in Gaza who could give her his physical condition after going through this, when he had to spend almost a week in the hospital and be fed by iv, who could state clearly why he was in the hospital for this long?

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