One Palestinian journalist’s meditation on being forced to pay for Haaretz, the only paper he can rely on, but one that also espouses a nationalist ideology he cannot accept. ‘I’m fated to be a reluctant reader — and a reluctant citizen.’
By Hakim Bishara
It’s morning and I desperately need the news. Where I live, one needs to know what awful things to expect outdoors before leaving the house. I often think of those people who have a favorite newspaper of choice. They develop an easy kinship to the paper: “Have you seen my newspaper?”, they ask around the house; “I’m here, just reading my newspaper”, they shout from the garden. They meet their favorite paper every morning expecting it to inform, enlighten and at times amuse them. True, they might be critical of some writers, alert to some trends, but in general they trust their paper. If it is a serious relationship, they subscribe. That way, mornings are never completely bleak and coffee is never lonely. And isn’t that nice? How I envy them, those people who look forward to leafing through the Sunday paper or casually entering their favorite news website during the day, just to check what’s happening.
It’s morning, and I need a source to rely on. Without much thought, I type my way into the Israeli Haartez news website. Yes, I’m a Palestinian, but I live in Israel and I need to know the inner workings of the political and social structures here. Nevertheless, the task of jigsawing a fundamental — however relative — truth falls solely on my shoulders. How can I possibly trust the Israeli news? But then again, how can I do without them? Relying only on the local Arab press, poor, bitter and disenfranchised, is below the needs of my disposition. You cannot fully perform the role of the victim while living in the belly of the beast. So, it is morning and I enter the Haaretz website, “The paper for thinking people,” as its slogan reads. But what has long become a default choice, a habitual and involuntary tapping of my fingers on the keyboard, is now blocked by an unequivocal...Read More