Martha Gellhorn, American war correspondent of Spanish Civil war vintage, was quoted as saying, “If a journalist can do nothing positive, to make the world more liveable or less cruel or stupid, he can at least record truly, and that is something no one else will do”.
And that is the thing - ‘reporting truly’ - that Israel doesn’t want done, in respect of its current offensive in Gaza. Israel’s refusal to allow foreign correspondents inside Gaza prevents media scrutiny of the plight of civilians there. And the world media appears to have accepted the situation. BBC telecasts occasionally brief reports from its Gaza-based producer Rushdi Abulaouf, but much of its war coverage is done by reporters looking in on Gaza from the Israel end.
Rushdi, functioning under severe limitations and a constant threat to his personal safety, comes on ‘live’ on BBC, usually during the daily three-hour truce in Israel bombing. And there isn’t much he can do by way of reporting Gaza on his own.
There are other Arab journalists inside Gaza, notably from Al-Jazeera. But then their coverage is seen mainly in the Middle-East. Al-Jazeera telecast has been banned in most parts of the US. Besides, people in the US, and even in India, are led to believe that Al-jazeera is Osama’s mouth-piece.
Had Martha Gellhorn been around (she died in 1998, aged 89) I wonder what she would have done. Or could have done. Refusal of entry to foreign media is not the only unacceptable act of Israel in its war on Gaza. World media, the press freedom and human rights activists appear to have accepted the unacceptable.