Vice News Covers-Up For the Violent “Gandhi of Palestine”

A highly misleading article from the online publication “Vice News” begins with the headline, “A Famous Palestinian Activist Could Be Sent to Israel Prison for His Years of Nonviolent Protest.”

Journalist Batya Ungar-Sargon says that Issa Amro is called the “Palestinian Gandhi,” and quotes an interviewee who compares him to Martin Luther King, Jr.

But what Vice won’t tell you is that Amro is actually not “non-violent” at all. In fact, he is quite violent.

According to the charges, Amro was actually arrested for his years of violence against Israeli soldiers and civilians, and for actively harming and degrading human beings in ways that Gandhi and Dr. King, in their time, found utterly deplorable. 

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The whole thrust of the article comes down to this:

Israel’s prosecution and persecution of Palestinians engaged in anti-occupation activities is nothing new. But Amro isn’t just any protester—sometimes called the “Palestinian Gandhi,” he’s a high-profile activist who is steadfastly committed to nonviolence.

Ungar-Sargon cherry picks several charges from the Israeli indictment emphasizing that Amro is being charged only with acts of non-violence.

This is a blatant distortion of facts, and an obvious breach of journalistic ethics.

HonestReporting has obtained the full indictment against Amro; here are some of the charges that Vice covered up from its readers:

  • 4 counts of attacks on soldiers, police and civilians;
  • 2 counts of willful damage to property;
  • 4 counts of interfering with a soldier; and
  • 2 counts of incitement.

In one of the events described in the indictment, Amro violently attacked a civilian, forcibly took the victim’s camera, and then destroyed the camera by smashing it on the ground, all while while spitting on the victim.

Aside from the obvious violence and vulgar use of bodily fluids, one wonders what was recorded on the camera that Amro didn’t want the world to see?

By covering up these facts, Vice is committing a breach of journalistic ethics called “Selective Omission.”

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In an exclusive conversation with HonestReporting, the IDF explained:

Over a period of several years, the defendant has committed a number of offenses including repeatedly taking part in riots, attacks on soldiers, incitement, and interference with security forces.  Following an accumulation of evidence against the defendant, he was indicted solely based on the evidence gathered as to his repetitive criminal behavior.

This is the “Palestinian Gandhi??”

Vice also engaged in the ethical breach of lack of context when it did not explain that the type of riots that Amro incites are commonly known to lead to violence: such as throwing rocks and setting fires, some riots have included torching Jewish holy sites, and some have included stabbing attacks.

To be clear, we do not have the resources to track the specific riots in which Amro was involved, yet these outcomes are the common and frequent results of Palestinian riots. In other words, this is no “march on Capitol Hill” in the spirit of Dr. King, as Vice would have its readers believe.

**FILE** Young Palestinian men burn tires and throw rocks when clashing with Israeli army in the West Bank city of Ramallah, during the first intifada. March 28, 1997. Photo by Nati Shohat/Flash90 *** Local Caption *** ???????? ?????? ???????? ???? ??? ??? ???? ????? ???? ???????? ??? ????? ????? ??????? ?????? ?????? ???????? ????????? ??????? ???????? ???????? ????????? ??????? ???????? ??????? ???????? ??????? ???????? ???????? ????????? ???????? ????????? ???????? ????????? ???????? ??????? ???????? ??????? ????????? ???????? ??"? ??"?

A Palestinian riot in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

This is the “Palestinian Martin Luther King??”

Vice then spins even more distortions of fact, saying:

But many of the charges are what in the US would be called free speech, like “incitement,” “insulting a soldier,” “attempting to influence public opinion in a place or way that threatens public safety or order,” and gathering without permission

Again, Vice covers up from its readers that the United States protects none of those activities as “free speech,” and in fact has laws against all of them:

  • Incitement, as well as aiding and abetting the furtherance of a riot, is illegal under the United States Criminal Code;
  • Influencing the public in a way that threatens public safety is also illegal, though both the Israeli indictment and US law refer to it as “Disturbing the Peace,” also sometimes called “Disorderly Conduct“;
  • Public gatherings without permission are frequently illegal in the United States, depending on the location and number of people involved;
  • Finally, Vice misstates the charge of “insulting a soldier,” which was actually part of a broader charge of “interference with a soldier.” The United States Criminal Code calls this, “interference with law enforcement,” or sometimes, “obstruction of justice” (depending on the surrounding circumstance), and it is, indeed, illegal.

It is not unreasonable for a professional journalist to question whether charges in an indictment are actually true, and to examine the available evidence.

However, that is not what Vice did: instead Vice simply covered up the truth.

The real Gandhi and Dr. King were very clear about the role of non-violence:

Non-violence is not a garment to be put on and off at will. Its seat is in the heart, and it must be an inseparable part of our being.

–Mahatma Gandhi

Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral.

–Dr. Martin Luther King

Issa Amro is also clear about his personal philosophy:

Years of violence against soldiers, violence against civilians, destruction of personal property, insulting, spitting, and instigating riots.

This is the “Palestinian Gandhi.” This is the “Palestinian Martin Luther King.”

This is what Vice News calls “journalism.”

Please send your considered comments to Vice News at: editor@vice.com

Riot photo by: Nati Shohat/Flash90;

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