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/ ARTICLE: Adam Ondra in Israel & Occupied Palestine: Climb Free

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UKC Articles - on 13 Mar 2018
Ofer and Adam at the Dead Sea., 3 kbIn December 2017, Adam Ondra visited Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. He received criticism on social media largely for not engaging with local Palestinian climbers, but was also reprimanded by some for naming Israel's first 9a 'Climb Free' - a clumsy, ironic choice, comments read. Swiss journalist Dominik Osswald joined Adam and his team on the trip, and wrote the following account of their time there.

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1
Kemics - on 13 Mar 2018

If anyone is interested in the history of Israel/Palestine: there's an amazing podcast series called Fear and Loathing in the New Jerusalem by Martyrmade podcasts. The guy who put it together is an incredible story teller. He really sets the context for the birth of the Jewish state by detailing the previous hundred+ years for both peoples. (also makes the British empire look pretty evil along the way) It's incredibly entertaining and thorough ... it's also very long. But well worth it. 

colin8ll on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to UKC Articles:

Adam seems like such a nice guy and a great ambassador for our sport, but on this occasion I think he got things very wrong!

16
rtinma on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to UKC Articles:

I will always give someone of Adam Ondra's character and genuine honesty the benefit of the doubt but the naivety shown by his visit to climb in Israel and the Occupied West Bank and the lack of understanding of the extent of the oppression of Palestinians in their own land is breathtaking.

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Coel Hellier - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to colin8ll:

> ... but on this occasion I think he got things very wrong!

Why?  For visiting those areas at all? 

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Robert Durran - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to rtinma:

> ...........lack of understanding of the extent of the oppression of Palestinians in their own land is breathtaking.

Where in the article is this "lack of understanding" shown?  To me, if anything, what came across was an interest in and willingness to understand the problems.

 

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Ramon Marin - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to UKC Articles:

When Ofer says "It belongs to us", is he referring to the occupied territories? It's not clear by the way it's article is written. The whole situation in Israel is f*cked up and it's impossible to sit on the fence. If I understand correctly Adam exposure has been used to facilitate access to Israel crags, some in occupied territories? 

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TobyA on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to Ramon Marin:

Yeah, that line was almost mystical in its vagueness. I read it charitably as the Israeli saying the conflict belongs to them, as in ''we need to own it".

I'm not sure if the next bit was written oddly in German or translated poorly:

"Ofer explains the three areas that have shared the West Bank since the Oslo Accords, A: full civil and security control by the Palestinian Authority, B: Palestinian civil control and joint Israeli-Palestinian security control, and C: full Israeli civil and security control. Two-thirds of the West Bank are Area C."

Understanding the different control areas in the West Bank is important for people outside the region to understand why most countries round the world call Gaza/West Bank, the Occupied Territories still.

dr_botnik - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to UKC Articles:

It does somewhat appear that the celebrity of Ondra has been used to promote crags which have strictly controlled access along racial/national lines. His wish to "save fighting" for where it matters seems a selfishly motivated goal when reports speak of limited access to healthcare, vital transport links, even food, water and power for most Palestinians. Wonder if he had an Egypt stamp in his passport before the visit? Maybe then he would have felt what it's like for the unprivileged. This whole excursion has had a tone deaf element throughout. I am certainly less impressed by Ondra's intelligence, insight and astuteness if not his ability to hold onto rocks the best.

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rtinma on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

I'm afraid the article glosses over most of the major issues: for example 

"Which area are we entering now?"
"Area C."
Palestinians are allowed to climb there, but their access to the area is not nearly as easy as ours. They are not allowed to pass a nearby Israeli settlement; they can only reach the cliff via a detour."

Why do you think they have to make a detour. Because they are likely to be attacked if they don't!

Consider the inequality in this article:
https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Latest-News-Wires/2014/0420/Do-West-Bank-Israelis-Palestinians-live-under-different-set-of-laws

"Only 53 Israeli settler youths were arrested for stone-throwing over the past six years, the data shows, and 89 percent were released without charge. Six were indicted. Four of those were found "guilty without conviction," a common sentence for Israeli juveniles that aims not to stain their record. One was cleared. The sixth case was still in court as of October, the most recent information available.

By contrast, 1,142 Palestinian youths were arrested by police over the same period for throwing stones, and 528 were indicted. All were convicted. Lawyers say the penalty is typically three to eight months in military prison."

The mistreatment of young Palestinians, such as Ahed Tamimi, who are tried by military courts is accentuated by the ban on anyone under 35 leaving the Occupied territories. Not much chance of a Palestinian climber going to Font! 

Sadly, the above is just the tip of a very  big iceberg.

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Michael Hood - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to dr_botnik: maybe there'd be more healthcare etc if your money (I presume you live in the EU) was used for the purposes it was donated, rather than corruptly lining Palestinian politician's pockets.

Edit: not saying this is the only thing by any means but don't be misled that Palestinian leader's aims are the same as the desires and needs of the Palestinian man in the street.

Post edited at 13:36
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Michael Hood - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to rtinma:

Why do you think they have to make a detour. Because they are likely to be attacked if they don't!

LOL, I don't think so. It's a defensive policy to reduce the likelihood of attacks by Palestinians on Israeli settlements. Whether those measures are reasonable would depend on your view on whether settlements should be there or not but that is a whole other debate.

 

Post edited at 13:43
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Eric9Points - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to UKC Articles:

While I imagine that all Adam wanted to do was to climb I don't believe he should have gone to Israel.

The world's sportsmen (I include climbers here) should have nothing to do with Israel just as the world had nothing , sports wise, to do with South Africa until they started to relax their apartheid laws.

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rtinma on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to Michael Hood:

So illegal settlements are claiming more land around them to protect themselves. I think you underestimate the imbalance of power here. Settlers guns backed up by the military against stone-throwing youths! 

When I was in Nablus, in the Balata refugee camp, the Palestinian guide pointed to the beautiful hills and said that they couldn't go up and picnic there like they used to, because they would be in danger of being shot at by settlers. 

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Robert Durran - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to Eric9Points:

> The world's sportsmen (I include climbers here) should have nothing to do with Israel just as the world had nothing , sports wise, to do with South Africa until they started to relax their apartheid laws.

An individual (even if it is Ondra) going climbing is very different from someone or a team going representing their country in a competitive sport. To me Ondra going is no different to any other tourist (of course you could argue that tourists should not go either).

 

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Robert Durran - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to rtinma:

> I'm afraid the article glosses over most of the major issues: for example 

> "Which area are we entering now?"

> "Area C."Palestinians are allowed to climb there, but their access to the area is not nearly as easy as ours. They are not allowed to pass a nearby Israeli settlement; they can only reach the cliff via a detour."

In what way is that glossing it over? It makes the inequality clear. I think the article is quite enlightening about some of the injustices with respect to climbing (and it is, after all, a climbing article). For instance, I was not aware, until I read it about the A, B, C areas.

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Eric9Points - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

Adam Ondra makes the news. That makes him different. You'll also note that the Israeli tourist board were assisting him. That again makes him different from ordinary climbers.

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In reply to Ramon Marin:

I understood it to mean 'the conflict belongs to us'...as in 'the conflict is a part of us.' That's a direct translation from the German (Ich frage Ofer, ob es ermüdend sei, immerzu mit dem Konflikt konfrontiert zu werden. „Er gehört zu uns“, sagt er.) which I assume is a direct translation of Ofer's phrase in English and makes sense if English is his second language and it's not quite clear. Triple-layer translation - interesting! I can see where the confusion in English might lie since in German the corresponding article and subject make it clear. I've repeated 'the conflict' for clarity now.

Toby: That section was taken from a Wiki page on the areas to ensure it was official and correct, rather than recording verbatim what Ofer said. Sounds a bit stilted, perhaps.

Robert Durran - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to Eric9Points:

> Adam Ondra makes the news. That makes him different.

True. So I suppose it depends on whether you think the article is a positive or a negative thing (or neutral). As I said, I think that, if anything, the article shows Ondra as genuinely interested in the area's problems and enlightening about the issues, so I would argue that he is using his profile positively.

 

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Patrick Roman - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to UKC Articles:

 

I haven't read the article yet, only the comments on here. Anyone who puts someone like Ondra on a pedestal has issues. He is not a spokesman for all that is fair and good in the world. He should be free to say or do whatever he wants regardless of whether you agree or not.

 

Travel is one of the most valuable things we can do. It informs us in ways that nothing else quite can. I travelled alone through Israel, the West Bank and Gaza just before the Second Intifada and it opened my eyes to some of the problems going on over there. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not black and white. It is grey, grey, grey.

 

And the reference to South Africa? I nearly lost my life in Central Johannesburg in 1998 at the hands of two armed blacks. I don't blame them for what they did. The experiences I had across South Africa taught me that their actions were symptomatic of their upbringing and environment. And don't be under any illusion, apartheid is far from over down there.

 

What about Kosovo? Off limits too or deserving of sympathy after its bitter (and ongoing) conflict with Serbia? I was there a few years ago, entering the country by bus from Albania about a week after the Scottish referendum. I had an insightful (at first very diplomatic!) conversation with the Kosovan border guard re independence, and similarly with countless Kosovars during my time there. In the interest of balance, two years before I had been in Serbia, and later stayed for a while with a Serb family in Montenegro.

 

The world is far from perfect but to shut it out only encourages ignorance and signals the end for human growth and understanding.

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dr_botnik - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to Michael Hood:

> Edit: not saying this is the only thing by any means but don't be misled that Palestinian leader's aims are the same as the desires and needs of the Palestinian man in the street.

I think you may be committing a straw man fallacy, I made no reference to the Palestinian leadership, and am well aware they are not without fault. My original post pointed towards the inequality and unprivileged existence of an entire race and nationality i.e the people of Palestine. I have had friends experience both sides of the divide and, whilst I support the preservation of Jewish culture, in my opinion the Palestinians by far have the rawer deal. I am open to hearing how I may be wrong, but not for being attacked for things I have not said.

 

Ramon Marin - on 15 Mar 2018
In reply to Natalie Berry - UKC:

Thanks for clarifying, lost in triple layer translation. 

Big Lee - on 15 Mar 2018
In reply to UKC Articles:

Reading the article Ondra strikes me as being quite naive about the politics of Israel with little advance knowledge. He doesn't strike me as somebody who has done his research in advance and made an informed decision on whether to go and why. Being interested upon arrival is a bit late when you've been invited by the Ministry of Tourism to help promote tourism. It could just be the article of course. 

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jonnie3430 - on 15 Mar 2018
In reply to Eric9Points:

But they are fine to visit the Gaza strip even though they are ruled by a democratically elected terrorist organisation that has a stated aim of driving Israel into the sea?

I wish people considered both sides fairly. Neither is right, there is only grey and to support a black and white arguement doesn't help anything.

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Big Lee - on 15 Mar 2018
In reply to jonnie3430:

> But they are fine to visit the Gaza strip even though they are ruled by a democratically elected terrorist organisation that has a stated aim of driving Israel into the sea?

> I wish people considered both sides fairly. Neither is right, there is only grey and to support a black and white arguement doesn't help anything.

One person's 'terrorist' is another person's 'rebel' though. Just look at Syria (the Kurds for example). It depends which side you are on.

Re Gaza, the Israeli government used to say the same about the West Bank in that there could never be negotiations with the Palestinians so long as the 'terrorism' on their part continued. Ironically, despite the wall being built and the Palestinian government having given up armed struggle, all that has happened is that the Israel government has even less need/desire to negotiate any sort of a settlement. The same would no doubt happen to Gaza, so I can't see how that can bee deemed the root of the problem. So long as there is a nationalist government elected, with US backing, I think we'll continue to see the slow annexation of Palestinian areas through expanding Israeli settlements.

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Simon Caldwell - on 15 Mar 2018
In reply to Big Lee:

> It depends which side you are on.

Both sides deliberately kill children in order to pursue their cause. I find it quite hard to be on either side.

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Coel Hellier - on 15 Mar 2018
In reply to Eric9Points:

> The world's sportsmen (I include climbers here) should have nothing to do with Israel...

What would you want Israel to do?

grooved rib - on 18 Mar 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Where in the article is this "lack of understanding" shown? 

The article only mentions Adam Ondra talking about the political situation to Israelis. Palestinian climbers generally speak good English and are incredibly welcoming. It would be a real shame if Adam had not engaged with them. I'm sure he would have heard a very different version of history!

Nina Caprez was invited to climb in Palestine by the Israeli climbing club in 2014 for an international meet. She had reservations about going and only accepted with the caveat that she would climb with Palestinians as well as Israelis. She said it was the only time in her life where climbing felt like a political act.

 

 

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Eric9Points - on 19 Mar 2018
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> What would you want Israel to do?


!?

Well they could start complying with UN resolutions. Basically not stealing Palestinian land and water or trampling on their human rights. That would be a start.

https://interactive.aljazeera.com/aje/2017/50-years-illegal-settlements/index.html

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Michael Hood - on 19 Mar 2018
In reply to Eric9Points: unfortunately it's not as black and white as that and in case you haven't realised the UN is a bit of a joke as well as being anti Israel (just compare the number of anti Israel resolutions with any other troubled area, eg Syria and you'll see what I mean). Also, there are two types of UN resolution and most of them are "advisory" which most people don't realise.

Having said all that, as a supporter of Israel, I am very disquieted by their settlement policy. I understand it's because of the internal political pressure from the right but from an external point of view it seems wrong on so many levels. I think they should have frozen it many years ago. Might have actually helped with peace negotiations.

 

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rtinma on 19 Mar 2018
In reply to Eric9Points:

Thank you. The article is a brilliant but tragic resume of the whole settlement project. I have visited Bethlehem, Nablus and Hebron, and seen these fortress like outposts, dominating the land and dividing the land with Israeli only roads. The life of Palestinians is hedged about with barriers, restrictions and threats. Regarding access to the land for walking or climbing, it is very difficult and dangerous, as you can read in the sad but beautiful book by Raja Shahadeh, called Palestinian Walks: Notes on a vanishing landscape. Another revealing book is Walking the Wall by Mark Thomas. The film about climbing in Palestine on another thread is a sad but timely reminder of the courage of Palestinians in the face of continuing injustice.

Post edited at 16:55
olddirtydoggy - on 20 Mar 2018
In reply to UKC Articles:

So the poor bloke can't go climbing there because it upset some of the locals. Ondra was right to go as the sport is supposed to transcend all differences. He comes across very well in this.

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planetmarshall on 20 Mar 2018
In reply to Michael Hood:

>  Also, there are two types of UN resolution and most of them are "advisory" which most people don't realise.

Are you sure? Have you asked "most people"?

 

Michael Hood - on 20 Mar 2018
In reply to planetmarshall:

Ok maybe I should have put "which I believe/think most people don't realise"

Would that keep you happy?

I still think my point's correct though.

rtinma on 31 Mar 2018
In reply to rtinma:

The imbalance of power shown yesterday in the gratuitous killing of 15 protestors and the wounding of many more civilians, some of whom were throwing stones. The reason given that they were trying to stop them tearing down an electrified fence around the prison that is the Gaza strip!

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MikeTS - on 01 Apr 2018
In reply to rtinma:

They were not civilians. All were male , of fighting age. 10 of the 15 killed have been identified as members of Gazan militant groups. They attempted a stupid, suicidal and doomed invasion of Israel. The civilians were several hundred metres back from the fence and none of them were killed.

Post edited at 20:16
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MikeTS - on 01 Apr 2018
In reply to UKC Articles

adam climbed in two areas. Both were not controversial. The 9a was put up in Israel ‘proper’. The failed 8c is on the national park in area C. Under the Oslo agreement Israel was given responsibility for managing national parks, and the P A agreed to this. The so called detour is because of security reasons to protect Israelis. Palestinians are welcome in Ein Fara. I go there many Fridays and probably half the visitors are Palestinians. You can tell from the number plates. Signage and maps are available in Hebrew, English and Arabic. There are Arabs working there as part of the parks staff . Ondra did nothing wrong.

 

Post edited at 20:23
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MikeTS - on 01 Apr 2018
In reply to dr_botnik:

Neither crag has racially based access controls. I know. Unlike you I have been there.

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douwe - on 01 Apr 2018
In reply to MikeTS:

> They were not civilians. All were male , of fighting age.

Blatant disregard for human life man.

TobyA on 02 Apr 2018
In reply to MikeTS:

> The so called detour is because of security reasons to protect Israelis.

But isn't it the case that those are Israelis living in a settlement, a settlement that our government deems to be illegal?

Jon Stewart - on 02 Apr 2018
In reply to MikeTS:

> They were not civilians. All were male , of fighting age. 10 of the 15 killed have been identified as members of Gazan militant groups. They attempted a stupid, suicidal and doomed invasion of Israel. The civilians were several hundred metres back from the fence and none of them were killed.

Can you take a step back and try to imagine how that reads to someone who is neither Israeli nor Palestinian?

"invasion" of Israel. After a couple of deep breaths and a sip of water, do you genuinely feel that that's a good use of language? If you want to paint a compelling picture from your side of things, you've simply got to raise your game. 

1
grooved rib - on 03 Apr 2018
In reply to MikeTS:

> Neither crag has racially based access controls. I know. Unlike you I have been there.

I know as well. The crag is on Palestinian land which is occupied by the Israeli military (Area C). On top of the crag is a settlement which is considered illegal under international law. The Palestinians cannot enter this settlement and so have a much longer approach/return hike than other climbers.

This type of situation is multiplied thousands of times every day for Palestinians as they go about their lives. The fact that you fail to acknowledge the humiliation and injustice this represents demonstrates how normalised the occupation has become for those who live in the area. Outsiders see a very different reality.

You wrote: "Palestinians are welcome in Ein Fara". Perhaps you could consider that differently. Palestinian climbers welcome all climbers at Ein Fara, regardless of their place of origin. That was my experience at least.

grooved rib - on 03 Apr 2018
In reply to MikeTS:

> They were not civilians. All were male , of fighting age.

In December a male of fighting age was shot at long range by an IDF soldier. He had no legs, was behind the security fence and - as far as I know - there are no reports of him being armed.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/idf-investigating-shooting-of-paraplegic-man-in-gaza-clashes/

https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/palestinians/the-shooting-of-a-legless-man-1.5628895

Around the same time, in Hebron, I witnessed an unarmed youth being shot in the leg with a live bullet simply for taunting IDF soldiers. He posed no threat. Crippled for life? I have no idea, but plenty of others have been.

Andy Johnson on 03 Apr 2018
In reply to MikeTS:

> All were male , of fighting age.

Just so its clear, what does "of fighting age" mean?

Eric9Points - on 03 Apr 2018
In reply to Andy Johnson:

...and the 1500 or so that were"only" wounded?

Eric9Points - on 03 Apr 2018
lucozade - on 03 Apr 2018
In reply to UKC Articles:

This is a hugely complex situation and has been through history. Anyone who thinks they have the answer or the inside track probably doesn't! I have got friends who work on both sides of the 'fence' and both are doing their utmost to bring hope, healing, help and justice to all people through peaceful means - shining a light in a sometimes dark world. My respect is with them!

Big Lee - on 03 Apr 2018
In reply to Eric9Points:

I have to say that's a poor source you've used there. Al Jazeera are known for reporting with a strong Qatari bias. That was well demonstrated during the Arab spring when they almost completely failed to report on anything that happened in Bahrain, despite the almost continuous coverage in Egypt.

Not that I'm sticking up for the Israeli government's actions in the slightest. I just think you've used a source that is equally unreliable.

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grooved rib - on 03 Apr 2018
In reply to lucozade:

> This is a hugely complex situation 

Has anyone said it was simple?

> and has been through history.

Has anything not "been through history"?!

> Anyone who thinks they have the answer or the inside track probably doesn't! 

Has anybody claimed to have the answer?

> I have got friends who work on both sides of the 'fence' and both are doing their utmost to bring hope, healing, help and justice to all people through peaceful means

People are only criticising the IDF for shooting unarmed protestors, not your friends.

> My respect is with them!

Indeed. All power to the peacemakers.

 

Post edited at 14:18
grooved rib - on 03 Apr 2018
In reply to Big Lee:

> I have to say that's a poor source you've used there. Al Jazeera are known for reporting with a strong Qatari bias.

That may be true, but it doesn't make Al Jazeera any less reliable than most Western media outlets.

Which parts of the article do you object to?

 

 

 

Big Lee - on 03 Apr 2018
In reply to grooved rib:

> That may be true, but it doesn't make Al Jazeera any less reliable than most Western media outlets.

> Which parts of the article do you object to?

I just don't trust their reporting in the same way I don't trust Fox at the other end of the spectrum. I probably trust the BBC most of all, but all media outlets seem to suffer the same problem of nearly always providing the Israeli response to events and rarely feature a Palestinian representative for balance. 

Eric9Points - on 03 Apr 2018
In reply to Big Lee:

You haven't read the article, have you?

Big Lee - on 03 Apr 2018
In reply to Eric9Points:

[Sigh] Yes I did read the article. Ok, the Independent reported casualties at 1000, and that was the official Palestinian Ministry of Health figure. Al Jazeera stated 1500 with no source given. That's all I'm going to give you I'm afraid as arguing with strangers on the Internet about politics isn't what I generally bother with on UKC (I've got better things to do with my evening). Plus I'm now moving off topic wittering about a news station. My main broader point was that the Qatari government use Al Jazeera to push their desired angle on events and that I don't think it's the best source of balanced journalism. The complete black-out of the Arab spring uprising in Bahrain demonstrated that very clearly.

1
grooved rib - on 03 Apr 2018
john arran - on 03 Apr 2018
In reply to Big Lee:

> The complete black-out of the Arab spring uprising in Bahrain demonstrated that very clearly.

Reminds me of events more recent and closer to home, when a national broadcaster implemented a near complete blackout of anti-Brexit protest rallies, despite these being attended by thousands and in many cities. By contrast, they seemed very keen to cover in detail the wasteful throwing of fish into the Thames by an ex-politician with no official position and with no point that really bore scrutiny, except they seemed to conveniently ignore that latter detail in their reporting.

grooved rib - on 03 Apr 2018
In reply to lucozade:

Sorry, my reply was a bit arsey! :/

Big Lee - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to grooved rib:

Yes, sorry I should have said near complete black-out coverage rather than complete black-out coverage. My wrong.

grooved rib - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Big Lee:

An internet search will reveal several more articles, for the most part highly critical of the government in Bahrain. Indeed last year Bahrain was one of the Gulf states blockading Qatar and demanding that Al Jazeera be shut down.

But for sure, selective news coverage is one of the most potent ways the media can exercise bias. Editorial boards have to choose which stories to cover and this will inevitably be influenced by their own political agenda. State-funded media, such as Al Jazeera (and yes, in some circumstances, even our beloved BBC) may also get leaned on by governments.

However, I think Al Jazeera manages to maintain an admirable degree of independence given the context in which it operates.

In any case, the internet allows us to gain insight from many different and conflicting sources, and in this respect Al Jazeera is certainly worth consulting.

Big Lee - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to grooved rib:

> Indeed last year Bahrain was one of the Gulf states blockading Qatar and demanding that Al Jazeera be shut down.

Well yes things have changed since 2010. Counties like Qatar and Turkey are bigger regional players. Qatar and Saudi Arabia relations are generally worse. Saudi Arabia have set up a rival news station to counter the Qatar-centric Al Jazeera and Bahrain has always been a long term close ally of Saudi Arabia. Back then GCC troops were being sent into Bahrain to try and prevent any revolution happening.

Simon Cardy on 05 Apr 2018
In reply to lucozade:

There's nothing complex about the situation: it's really very simple. On the one side are the 'occupied' and on the other are the 'occupiers'.

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Michael Hood - on 08 Apr 2018
In reply to Simon Cardy:

How naive.

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