Photojournalist Stages News for Profit and IdeologyJuly 31, 2013 15:01 by Pesach Benson
Fadi Arouri is one of Ramallah’s biggest opponents of normalizing Israeli-Palestinian ties. He’s also a photographer who isn’t interested in separating his professional journalism and political activism.
And that raises questions about his association with the Reuters wire service and China’s Xinhua News Agency. HonestReporting has learned Reuters fired Arouri, apparently over his extra-curricular activities, but the wire service continues to use his work on a free lance basis.
Anti-Normalization Infects The Palestinian Media
The anti-normalization campaign condemns Israeli-Palestinian events whether they are political, business, or academic. Even children’s sporting events are taboo. All such activities, it is argued, “legitimize the Israeli occupation.”
This rejectionism has taken over the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS). That’s why in recent weeks, Israeli reporters and employees of Israeli news services working in the West Bank have faced increasing hostility. The PJS claims it’s fighting for freedom of movement in Israel.
Freedom of movement for journalists is certainly reasonable — but coming from this crowd, it’s a difficult argument to hear. The same journalists opposed to normalization are demanding Israeli travel permits and Israeli press credentials so they can work inside Israel, and interview the same Israelis they refuse to even let their kids play soccer with.
Fadi Arouri Crosses the Line
HonestReporting has learned that Fadi Arouri’s activities in the anti-normalization campaign go beyond legitimate activism, and have crossed over into his professional work. He works for Xinhua and has a free lance relationship with Reuters. He photography has appeared in AP, Apollo Images, Maan News, and Al-Ayyam.
One Palestinian journalist discussed Arouri with HonestReporting on condition of anonymity because he didn’t want his criticisms to be construed as personal. He described several troubling incidents the photographer was directly involved in:
1. On July 17, “Arouri and his friends organized a march of Palestinian journalists to the Qalandiya checkpoint, where they staged a confrontation with Israeli soldiers,” HonestReporting was told.
“They shouted at the soldiers so they could sell the photos. Looking at the photos, its looks like Arouri and his friends took turns confronting soldiers so they could photograph each other. That’s not a real protest. That’s a circus.”
The Bethlehem-based Maan News Agency published what amounted to a photo essay.
And the International Federation of Journalists denounced the IDF for its “harsh restrictions” and “brutal behavior.” According to the IFJ, seven journos were injured. Here’s an example of one photo Arouri shot and posted on Facebook.
2. In May, 2012, “the US consulate organized an event in Ramallah for International Press Freedom Day, and Arouri led the campaign against the Americans,” HonestReporting was told. “He didn’t want Palestinians attending the event because it was arranged by the Americans. Arouri views America as the enemy. This has nothing to do with Israel. That event was covered by the international media. It was a case of journalists staging an event and then covering it.”
Indeed, the Fatah-affiliated Al Aqsa Press quoted Arouri as one of the protest organizers:
Fadi Arouri, one of the Palestinian journalists said, that the journalists agreed to stage a sit-in protest against the event organized by the US consulate. He noted that the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, which represents all journalists of different political backgrounds, had called for boycotting the event in solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners.
Despite this hatred of the US, Arouri got a plum assignment later on. In March, 2013, the PA-run Palestinian Press Office selected Arouri to be the pool photographer shooting Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Ramallah. (To avoid unwieldy hordes of photographers at high-profile events, a pool photographer usually selected on a rotation basis covers the event and distributes his images world wide with no exclusivity.)