Demanding an End to Israel’s Targeted Killings of Journalists

Killing Jouranlists Palestine Gaza
Photo by Phil Pasquini

To commemorate the deaths of 100 journalists and media workers along with over 20,000 Gazans who have been murdered by the Israeli military with weapons supplied by the US, an action calling attention to the ongoing genocide along with the targeted killings of journalists took place in San Francisco. Outside of the Chronicle newspaper building journalists, media workers and supporters of journalism gathered to demand a permanent ceasefire now and an end to all US aid to Israel.

The commemoration was organized by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) Palestine Solidarity Campaign saying “the Israeli government has, since the beginning of the war in Gaza, continued its organized attack and murder of journalists as part of the efforts of the Israeli forces to stop the documentation and recording of their war crimes and the genocidal slaughter.” The union “strongly condemns the killing of journalists in Gaza, Israel and from Lebanon and calls on all parties to ensure the safety of journalists in the region to work without threat or interference.”

Comments made by Benny Gantz, a minister in the Israeli government and former defense minister, who compared journalists to “terrorists” was condemned by the union by noting “Journalism is not terrorism, and covering violence is not the same thing as condoning it. Journalists document tragedy as it unfolds and shine a light on a dark world. Our job is to seek truth and report it, especially during a war.”

The members of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign have called on their Executive Council to stand with Palestine demanding, “Our union must stand on the right side of history. Our union must pressure the U.S. government to stop funding and supporting Israel’s ongoing genocide against Palestinians. The billions spent on weapons and war should instead be put towards life-affirming systems such as healthcare, education, and infrastructure that benefits the working class.”

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign is also calling upon the union to honor the foundational commitment outlined in its constitution: “To raise the standards of journalism and ethics of the industry; to foster friendly cooperation with all workers. Living up to those words requires nothing less than demanding a ceasefire and an end to our government’s aid to Israel.”

Speaking to those gathered, union activist Steve Zeltzer spoke to the subject by saying “Not only have the journalists been killed, but their families have been killed by Israeli forces as they have actually bombed their homes in Gaza.” After posing the question of why so many journalists are being killed in Gaza, Zeltzer answered “The reason is that Israel does not want what they are doing in Gaza to get out. We believe that the labor movement and CWA International need to take a strong stand along with that of the United Auto Workers (UAW) and the American Postal workers Union who have already taken a strong stand against US support for Israeli’s war. The bombs, the bullets that are killing Palestinian journalists are coming from US weapons which our tax dollars pay for. That is a war crime and why are we paying for war crimes?’

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has characterized the war in Gaza on journalists and media workers, killed, injured, or missing “as the deadliest for journalists since they began gathering data in 1992.” Journalism is a dangerous profession and those who are willing to put their lives on the line to report from war zones are heroes in every sense of the word. All journalists deserve respect and support as they report on issues and conditions so the public in turn can be informed with relevant factual information and news about their communities and the world, to better understand for themselves the circumstances affecting their lives. Only demagogs and dictators fear the public being thus informed and are afraid to allow for the free exchange of information and ideas between journalists and the public, knowing full well that knowledge and Information is power.

Zeltzer went on to note that it’s not just journalists in Gaza who are being attacked but that here in the US journalists and media workers who support a ceasefire have been singled out, sanctioned and retaliated against to which the Palestine Solidarity Campaign has declared that “We defend their democratic rights and the rights of all journalists here and abroad.”

He went on to explain how several journalists at the LA Times “…who signed a statement for a ceasefire as a result of which the LA Times said they could no longer cover wars in the Middle East.” He pointed out how management at the paper has taken a position on a ceasefire in a November 16th editorial titled “Cease-fire now. The killing in Gaza must stop” in part saying that “It is time for a cease-fire. It is time for the Biden administration to assert strong and sustained pressure on the government of Benjamin Netanyahu to stop attacks that have reportedly already killed more than 11,000 Gazans. The world cannot stand by to witness more slaughter of civilians.” Evidently, as Zeltzer pointed out, while “Management can take a position on a ceasefire, workers at the newspaper cannot take a position.”

“We believe that journalists in the newspaper industry have a right to take sides, to take a position.” He noted, too, while standing under the watchful eye of the building’s security cameras and by the private security officers observing the protest, that the San Francisco Chronicle has banned journalists from marching on May Day and on Women’s Day” so this type of suppression on free speech is industry wide. He closed by declaring that “Journalists have a right to have their own voices.”

Phil Pasquini is a freelance journalist and photographer. His reports and photographs appear in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Pakistan Link and He is the author of Domes, Arches and Minarets: A History of Islamic-Inspired Buildings in America.

(This article has appeared in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs and Nuzeink)

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