By Jamal Kanj
Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, slain in his country’s consulate to silence his voice. American journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh, murdered in the streets of Palestine to stop her from reporting on Israeli occupation.
Two accounts where the worth of each victim is predetermined by a culture of confirmation bias. A culture that vilifies a murder by people we are predisposed to dislike, and rationalizes crimes against persons dehumanized by our corporate media.
In Khashoggi’s case, after denying culpability, Saudi leaders eventually accepted some responsibility claiming the victim died in a botched apprehension attempt, under tragic circumstances
In Abu Akleh’s case, Israel blamed Palestinian gunmen and denied responsibility even following several credible investigative media reports. Typical of Israeli deflection and obfuscation strategies, when truth overcome deception, the story evolves to the possibility an Israeli soldier could have fired a shot inadvertently killing the journalist, under tragic circumstances.
For the Saudi journalist, and while Turkey carried out meticulous investigations, the CIA Director and her team flew to Ankara to review and validate the evidence. Following secret briefings―absent the body and murder weapon―the US Senate led by Democrats passed a resolution (56-41) accusing Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) for murdering Khashoggi.
Regarding the American journalist, almost two months late, the US State Department sent a team who all but signed on an Israeli boilerplate conclusion. In a press release on July 4th, US State Department stated that it “could not reach a definitive conclusion regarding the origin of the bullet that killed Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. Ballistic experts determined the bullet was badly damaged, which prevented a clear conclusion.”
The “badly damaged” bullet might make it difficult for novice ballistic experts to match its fingerprint to the fired gun, but it doesn’t preclude “a clear conclusion” on the source of the shot. According to a high level Palestinian source familiar with the case, the US team spent just few days investigating the murder.
It did not bother briefing Palestinian officials before releasing the final report, did not interview journalist’s colleagues, ignored evidence provided by Ali Sammoudi, who was injured by the same gunfire, and disregarded comprehensive investigative reports by Associated Press, NY Times, Washington Post, CNN, UN, and other international bodies concluding with high level of certainty that the shot suspected of killing Abu Akleh came from an Israeli army position.
At Jeddah’s press conference, President Joe Biden flaunted his linguistic prowess pronouncing Khashoggi’s name, telling reporters that he raised the “outrageous” murder of the Saudi journalist, and discussed human rights issues “straightforward and direct” with MbS.
However, when questioned on Abu Akleh at a press conference in Ramallah, Palestine, two days earlier―with a large poster of the demised journalist staring at him from the front row―Biden failed to accurately pronounce the journalist’s name, and affirmed US commitment to see transparent (Israeli) investigations, without elaborating on steps US would take to ensure full accounting for the murder.
Biden did not tell reporters he demanded Israeli leaders to carryout “transparent investigations,” nor he discussed Palestinian human rights under Israeli apartheid occupation as documented by Israeli right groups, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.
US loses its moral compass when it calls for Israel to investigate its murder, but denies it for others, or when it refuses to dispatch FBI agents to investigate Abu Akleh’s death as it usually do whenever American journalists killed abroad.
Israel must not be an exception. This is especially noteworthy since Israel’s record investigating its extrajudicial killing is a rhetoric of platitude to normalize murder, and a malignant legal pardon for unlawful military conduct.
It’s high time we wake up from the catatonic stupor of American exceptionalism. Being a “full-fledged American” is neither a birth right nor a passport, but a system of unequal citizenry. If Abu Akleh’s name was Oakley or killed by a regime liberal media loves to hate, she may have received the same attention bestowed, rightly, on Khashoggi.
In fact, if it weren’t for two non-regular prime time MSNBC hosts, liberal and conservative media outlets would have had no daylight distinguishing their coverage on the murder of Abu Akleh.
The contrasting stance liberal media and politicians had maintained on the slain journalists exposes the hypocrisy of those who espouse liberal and progressive values, but turn deaf and mute when it comes to the apartheid practices of the most right-wing Israeli governments.
Epitome of hypocrisy is protesting Biden’s pump fist with MbS for killing Khashoggi, while remain conspicuously silent or regurgitate AIPAC’s talking points excusing Israel’s murder of the American journalist.
– Jamal Kanj is the author of “Children of Catastrophe,” Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America, and other books. He writes frequently on Arab world issues for various national and international commentaries. He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle