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Sunday, December 3, 2023

STA and Hamas’s construction of the Middle Eastern reality

By: Gašper Blažič

The recent farewell of sociologist, professor, and former director of RTV Slovenia, Dr Janez Jerovšek, who was also a long-time columnist for the media you are currently reading, reminded me of some episodes from the recent history of Slovenian media. About twenty years ago, Dr Jerovšek, in fact, actively participated in the project of the Institute for the Revival of Civil Society, evaluating and reporting on Slovenian media.

A group that included Jerovšek, along with others such as Andrej Aplenc (also our columnist), Croatian academic Dr Josip Županov, the late poet Dane Zajc (“…a time comes when there is no more time…”), and many others, critically evaluated the functioning of Slovenian media already during the Bajuk government and the last Drnovšek government. A total of 24 articles were published on this period, compiled under the thematic title “Media Construction of Slovenian Reality”, which were later published in the Dignitas magazine.

It is clear that what followed the publication of this publication in many ways exceeded the issues of the 2000-2002 period. I believe that the mentioned group, within the framework of the Institute for the Revival of Civil Society, would have had a lot of work, even if they focused only on two media outlets funded by taxpayers – namely, RTV Slovenia and the Slovenian Press Agency (STA). These are two public service media that should be trustworthy. Regarding the operation of the Institute for the Revival of Civil Society and STA, a rather serious awkwardness occurred in 2001 with the editorial staff of Demokracija (and the author of the column you are reading). When we were submitting the magazine for printing and had to include a short news item about the press conference of the institute at the last minute, due to time constraints, we summarised the STA agency news about this event. The awkward part was that this agency news quoted the critical position of the writer Drago Jančar on the operation of the Ministry of Culture. So, the opinion that actually did not exist, as Drago Jančar (as he later told us) was not even present – apparently the journalist from STA (Slovenian Press Agency) who was covering the event clearly did not distinguish between Jančar and Danilo Zajc, who actually expressed that opinion. Unfortunately, we were informed about the mistake too late, when the magazine had already been published. And because of (excessive) trust in the quality of the public service STA, we embarrassed ourselves in front of the public. We never received an apology or correction from STA because everything always “works out in Butale”.

I was reminded of this rather sad anecdote when I recently browsed the STA website and followed news from the Middle East. Headlines like “Israel attacked a hospital”, “Israel attacked a refugee camp”, and similar titles have been standing out lately, causing considerable indignation in the Slovenian public due to the alleged ruthless and defiant revenge attacks by the Israeli army, which supposedly continuously targets civilians in Gaza. Meanwhile, the United Nations almost beg the Israeli government on their knees to cease fire at least briefly so that they can deliver humanitarian aid to desperate people. Yes, such a picture of events in the Middle East is what an average Slovenian gets if they follow dominant media, especially RTV Slovenia programmes. However, if you read these news reports carefully, you can see that the Slovenian media mainstream always refers to the information provided by the “local authorities” in Gaza, which are apparently the sole source of information about what is happening in Gaza. And who are the “local authorities”? Hamas, of course, the extremists who have absolute power there and take all the civilians there as hostages (I wrote more about this in the column “What does Hamas have to do with Dražgoše”) and want to achieve the eradication of Israel without compromise. The Slovenian public therefore receives information sent to the world by Hamas propaganda – without having access to a comprehensive picture of what is happening in this area. This type of reporting naturally encourages anti-Semitism, not only here, but also elsewhere in Europe and the world.

As a Christian, I do not care at all about the new and new civilian casualties in this undoubtedly extremely dirty war. But the truth about who and what Hamas really is and how it unreservedly sacrifices the civilian population for its own needs must not be concealed. Gaza (and with it all the Palestinians) will achieve peace only when the population itself renounces Hamas. Not before.


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