Media Matters: 'We are all Neda'

The gruesome gunning down of an Iranian protester in her prime is being watched all over the world on YouTube.

neda agha soltan 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
neda agha soltan 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
In an op-ed in Ma'ariv on Monday, Ben Caspit and Ben-Dror Yemini lashed out at the Left for its lack of response to the events in Iran. "Tell us," they write. "Where is everyone? Where are all the people who demonstrated against Israel's brutality in Operation Cast Lead, in the Second Lebanon War, in Operation Defensive Shield?... All the... friends filling the newspapers, magazines and various academic journals with various demands for boycotting Israel, defaming Zionism and blaming us and it for all the ills and woes of the world - could it be that they have taken a long summer vacation? Now of all times, when the Basij hooligans have begun to slaughter innocent civilians in the city squares of Teheran? Aren't they connected to the Internet?... How can it be that when a Jew kills a Muslim, the entire world boils, and when extremist Islam slaughters its citizens, whose sole sin is the aspiration to freedom, the world is silent?... There are millions of Muslims who support freedom, human rights, equality for women. These millions loathe Khamenei, Chavez and Nasrallah, too. But part of the global left-wing prefers the ayatollah regime over them. The main thing is for them to raise flags against Israel and America." I couldn't agree with Caspit and Yemini more. But to their diatribe - which has been making the rounds on the Web - I would add a severe reprimand to the Hebrew media. Where the hell are you guys? True, the three TV channels have generally led their news broadcasts with the Iranian revolution that is taking place in the streets of Teheran. But even that is petering out as the week progresses. The same goes for the dailies, with their news pages at least paying lip service to the fact that this is a major story. But all those pundits whose righteous indignation about every injustice - this week's being Bank Hapoalim magnate Shari Arison's revelation that she communicates and consults with celestial beings; the nomination of Judge Moshe Drori to the Supreme Court (though he acquitted a yeshiva boher who purposely rammed his car into an Ethiopian waitress at a restaurant which he exited without paying his bill); the sentencing of former ministers Avraham Hirchson and Shlomo Benizri to prison terms; and, of course, the third anniversary of Gilad Schalit's incarceration at the hands of Hamas - seem to have lost their voices when it comes to what is probably the most significant world event that we've seen in years. Don't get me wrong. It distresses me to hear that my bank is headed by someone who relies on mystics (though, in the final analysis, economists and other experts don't necessarily have a greater grasp than stargazers). Nor can I believe, let alone tolerate, that a judge in this country, in 2009, would dare use Maimonides as the basis for a 300-something-page explanation of why the haredi guy doesn't need to be punished because he completed all his stages of repentance. And I, too - like the rest of the country and members of the press - am fed up with the monetary monkey business of our politicians, as well as horrified that the IDF can't swoop down, kill Schalit's captors and get the kidnapped soldier home already. Still, let's get real here. Iran is the story. The story - ours as journalists and as citizens. Both its unfolding plot and its ending will have far-reaching global consequences we can only pray will go in the right direction - that of freedom. ANOTHER, EVEN more widely circulated item than that of Caspit and Yemini is the graphic clip of Neda Salehi Agha Soltan, a 27-year-old Iranian woman, who was shot through the heart on Saturday by the "Basij hooligans" referred to above. In the clip, that was posted via cellphone on YouTube, the beautiful young Neda is seen dying, while her father and others try in vain to resuscitate her. The negative of her bloodstained face has been made into a logo for posters and other paraphernalia to promote the cause. But have we been seeing it plastered over our news pages and TV screens? The answer is no. Compare this to the picture of Muhammad al-Dura, the 12-year-old Palestinian boy, reported by France 2 TV to have been killed (in September 2000) by IDF fire. Later it was proved that he was actually killed by "friendly" fire, if at all. But, the facts were of interest to no one, in Israel or the Muslim world. The latter, in fact, still uses Dura's image to recruit suicide bombers. Now is the time for the Israeli and American media to step up to the plate and further, for once and for all, the cause of genuine freedom fighters, as opposed to those who are misrepresented as such by themselves and by their Western apologists, among them a large portion of the press. Neda really is us.