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Deliberate Western media blackout after US Air Force member sacrifices self to stop Gaza genocide

February 27, 2024 at 11:44 am

A group of Code Pink activists are gathered to hold a candlelight vigil outside of Israeli consulate in San Francisco, California, United States for 25 year-old active duty US on February 26, 2024 [Tayfun Coşkun/Anadolu Agency]

Arab social media users and activists are calling US pilot Aaron Bushnell (25) the “American Bouazizi” after he set his body on fire in protest against the genocide in Gaza, amid Arab praise.

At the same time, Anadolu Agency observed that well-known US media outlets have been deliberately evasive about the reason for Bushnell’s death – his solidarity with Gaza and Palestine.

Since 7 October, 2023, Israel has been waging a devastating genocidal war with US support on the Gaza Strip, which has left tens of thousands of victims, primarily children and women, caused massive destruction to the infrastructure and led to an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe, which resulted in Israel being brought before the International Court of Justice on genocide charges.

On 17 December, 2010, Tunisian Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in front of the Sidi Bouzid state headquarters in protest against the local authorities’ confiscation of a cart on which he sold vegetables and fruits to earn a living and the failure to accept his complaint.

Fourteen years later, the US Metropolitan Police Department announced, on Monday, the death of Bushnell, who set himself on fire in front of the Israeli Embassy “to condemn the genocide” in Gaza.

Bushnell headed towards the Israeli Embassy in Washington and, upon his arrival, poured gasoline on his head and set himself on fire, repeatedly shouting “Free Palestine”.

WATCH: US airman sets himself on fire in front of Israeli Embassy in Washington

Before setting himself on fire, Bushnell said he was: “About to engage in an extreme act of protest – but compared to what people have been experiencing in Palestine at the hands of their colonisers is not extreme at all.”

RIP Aaron Bushnell – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

The footage showed an embassy police officer asking Bushnell, “Can I help you?” while the other police officer said: “We need a fire extinguisher, not a gun.”

The phrase “American soldier” was one of the most widely circulated on X in several Arab countries, including Egypt and Kuwait, according to what was monitored by Anadolu Agency.

A verified account by the name “Labnan” on X wrote “American Bouazizi has died,” while an account under the name Abdel Rahman Amer asked: “Will Aaron Bushnell be Mohamed Bouazizi? Is it time for an American… European spring?”

Ahmed Al-Juhaini posted: “America’s Bouazizi objected to America’s arrogance and died saying free Palestine.” Meanwhile, an account under the name Musa Mazen posted: “I think Bouazizi has been resurrected in America.”

Journalist Dima Al-Khatib posted on her X account: “Western media reports the news of American soldier Aaron Bushnell who burned himself to death in protest against his government’s support for genocide, with his last words being ‘Free Palestine’, without mentioning the word Palestine, Gaza, or genocide in their headlines. The shameful media wants to weaken the protest of this young man who sacrificed his life to deliver a message.”

Arabi Post posted pictures from Newsweek, The Washington Post, CNN and other Western agencies’ coverage of the incident, expressing: “They all spontaneously agreed not to mention the reason why soldier Aaron Bushnell burned himself in front of the Israeli Embassy in Washington… even though he announced the reason himself in a video that everyone saw, and said that the reason was his protest against the genocide practised by Israel against the Palestinians in Gaza.”

The newspaper questioned why the reason was ignored in the headlines, asking: “Did they not know the reason? Did they not receive the video that the soldier posted? Or was there another reason?”

Arab writer Samar Jarrah criticised the US blackout on X, posting: “The news is on The New York Times page. No mention of Palestine or Gaza. CNN news says an Air Force member sets himself on fire outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington. There is no mention of Gaza or the genocide in the news headline.”

Jarrah added: “Despite all the attempts of the profitable media to obscure and deny the gravity of the meaning of what Aaron Bushnell did on domestic politics in America, his name is trending on Twitter in America ‎#AaronBushnell. Imagine the impact of this operation on the young people who are passionate about the interests of Gaza and all just domestic and foreign issues.”

OPINION: Will Joe Biden hear this US airman’s harrowing cry of ‘Free Palestine’?