Red Apples For the President and the Defense Minister
I don’t know who gave to Austrian President Dr. Heinz Fischer and his Defense Minister Norbert Darabos the two red apples. Was he that child who the President stopped at his side to take a commemorative picture, or someone else? It was a short moment which separated me from this human and beautiful scene. When they received the red apples I was few steps in front of them caring to be at the right distance for taking pictures. When I turned around, I saw a red apple in the hands of each of the men as signs of happiness and pleasure, while they were smiling as if each apple was a rare jewel.
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The President was on his way back home, his defense minister was giving him the a proper farewell after laying a wreath at the grave of the unknown soldier in remembrance of the Austrians victims of the second world war. Both were walking among the people, greeting them, shaking their hands, smiling and wishing them happy celebrations. There were no barriers, or the police beating the citizens right and left, military pushing or chasing the people, what is how such events develop in the repressive Arab dictatorships without exception, but also in the more militarized Western countries whose governments are engaged in crimes against their own peoples as well as those of other countries.
Simply, life in Austria is something special and different than life anywhere else. The government bodies respect the dignity of the citizens, and the Austrian official bodies are not involved in crimes against the peoples from here or other countries. The Austrian political history is an open white page before the nation and their own history is rich in defending their people and their country. Those are the real bases which gives a stable ground of safety, peace and security in Austria. Those who believe that the Austrian government are only representing in front of the cameras are wrong. The truth is that the way how things work in Austria is different from other countries.
To see a child in Austria asking the president stop for a while in order to have a picture with him is something normal. To see the entrance of the President house open is also normal in Austria. In Israel or Jordan, Egypt, Tunis, Palestine etc to even get near the house of the President or the King can endanger the life of a person. To see members of the government or the parliament shopping is normal in Austria. To see the defense minster talking in a polite way and without repression is something normal too. In Israel and the Arab dictatorships, such people are never seen on the street, and asking them questions can endanger the life and liberty of a journalist.
In this country, to enter the press conference of the defense minster, the chancellor, the president without being insulted, having the equipment checked and broken or being threatened by wild dogs is normal, not so in Israel and Arab countries, where all these things are the normality, and also to be called names or receiving threats like “I will step on your neck and break your camera if you did not leave right now or if you move from your place” from the government thugs. To see cookies and drinks waiting for journalists in the press conferences, to sit in front of a minister without barriers is normal to Austria. To see and to ask whatever you want is also something normal here. That is all normal because the ministers, the president and the official bodies are normal too, they are not dictators who falsify elections and the will of the nation. In Israel and the Arab countries which I know, there would be barriers and thugs with ready weapons in any press conference.
I have never given compliments to governments in my reports, as the governments I have known until now have left me with negative memories and have had negative effects on my work and on others. What I see and deal with in Austria shines like the sun when I compare. I do not need to invent bad words about the flowers or to put sugar on the salt. Flowers are always flowers and the thorns are always thorns. My only fault is in telling the truth as I see it and not falsifying it.
From Israel and the Arab countries I ONLY remember the tragic events and crimes which occurred on such occasions. I remember the physical assaults on journalists, breaking their cameras, the military beating and kicking them with their boots, hurling disgusting insults at them when they would photograph some Arab leader. I remember how we were left naked in a “checking” room at the royal palace of an Arab country before we were allowed to enter a press conference. I remember how the dogs attacked us and jumped on our cameras and equipment whenever US officials visited the occupied Palestinian territories. I remember the bullets and the bloodshed, the many journalists who were murdered, shot in cold blood by Israeli soldiers rather than allowing them to do their journalistic work. I also remember how the israel soldiers assaulted me many times while I was doing my work. After many years, I still see those images of horror in nightmares.
At the beginning of 2010 and during the past year 2009, the convoy of the so-called secretary general of the “Palestinian Presidency”, Tayeb Abd el-Rahim, murdered two Palestinian citizens in two separate incidents in the downtown Ramallah. Abed El-Rahim censored the news about these tragic murders of two human beings. The newspapers and the human rights institutions were all forbidden to publish anything about these crimes, everything was covered up. That is why I am reporting about the apples which the Dr. President Heinz Fischer and Minster of Defence Nobert Darabos received while walking at the Heldenplatz yesterday, because the behavior of politicians here contrasts like day and night to what I had been accustomed to see.
In Austria, reporting about human stories like the apples which the president and defense ministers receive, how they welcome their guests is part of the Austrian normality, a normality which other countries do not experience. I am sure that the president ate the apple and that he did not throw it in the garbage as the hypocrite Arab leaders, the “officials” of the occupation governments would have done after finishing their act in front of the media, when returning to their normality and putting on their true, ugly faces.
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