Western media provides cover for Israeli violence
The violent reaction of the Israeli government to protesters demonstrating against Israel’s oppressive policies in the occupied territories and against Christian and Muslim citizens inside Israel is being enabled by a biased mainstream American and Israeli news media that plays down Israeli atrocities while exaggerating Palestinian crimes. The news media especially in America is the real enemy of peace and justice. Arab News April 5, 2018
By Ray Hanania
The Western news media is stoking the violence in the Middle East by defending Israel and ignoring facts.
That was obvious in the coverage of the 15 Palestinian civilians killed in the Gaza Strip during protests this week to mark the 42nd anniversary of “Land Day” and the 70th Anniversary of Israel’s war against freedom.
Almost all of the Western news media embraced Israel’s government claims the narrative distributed by Israel. Most of the Western journalists reporting on the events are either Israelis who write for Israeli newspapers, and include many Jewish Israeli citizens who have a build in bias, and some non-Jews who abide by Israel’s unreported journalism censorship.
Israel imposes restrictions on journalists who work in Israel, punishing those who question Israel’s right to exist, use the term Nakba to describe Israel’s founding, or support of BDS. Israel doesn’t have to flex its muscle and many journalists simply censor themselves to avoid hassles. Last year, Israel expelled Dutch journalist Derk Walters for being too critical of Israeli policy in his reporting in one of the Netherland’s largest newspapers.
Journalists in Israel can be critical, but only mildly critical.
In the Western news media, criticizing Israel too harshly can result in your being disciplined. It’s better to cover Israel in glowing terms that reflect Israel’s propaganda, “pull your punches” softening criticism, or try to present “both sides” as being equally responsible for the violence even when the responsibility is not equal at all.
In either case, Israel is never blamed or held responsible for the violence in the writings of most Western news media.
If the fatalities were Israeli civilians, the news media would take a different approach declaring the suspects, known or unknown, as “Palestinian terrorists” and including quotes from Israeli officials emphasizing how they have tried everything to “live in peace” with the terrorists/Palestinians but to no success.
The Western media would publish extensive details on the names, lives and loves of the Israeli victims. We would see their human side, people trying to live in peace cut down by sinister, blood thirsty Arabs. The stories would have readers crying as if they were related to those killed.
In the case of Palestinian fatalities, it’s just the opposite. Palestinian casualties are presented as cold, empty statistics.
The NBC headline was “15 killed, hundreds injured n bloodiest day in Gaza since 2014 clashes.”
The Wall Street Journal headline was “Israel says firing on Palestinian protesters was justified.”
The Washington Post headline was “Israel threatens to expand response if Gaza violence continues.”
In one case, pro-Israel news media inside Israel debunked a video that was circulating on the Internet showing a Palestinian running from the border as Israeli soldiers start firing, carrying a tire he planned to burn in protest. The civilian was unarmed and was shot dead.
Israeli officials are extensively quoted denouncing the videos, asserting the video of the murdered man was posted by the “Hamas terror organization” and “which only depict parts of incidents while others are edited or completely fabricated.”
Since most of the media covering the clashes are controlled by Israel, none of them had video of the Palestinian being killed. Instead, most Western media were republishing or citing videos of Palestinians flinging rocks at Israeli soldiers – throwing the rocks more than 200 yards (making them more talented than any American football quarterback.)
None of the Western media reporting noted that while the Palestinians initiated the protests, Israel initiated the firing. Scores of Palestinian witnesses said Israel began firing on protesters as they approached the “border fence” more than 200 yards from where they stood. In response to the firing, Arab media noted, Palestinians in civilian clothing and no protection began slinging rocks at the Israeli soldiers who were heavily protected and fortified with armored vehicles and automatic weapons.
Palestinians were blamed unfairly. According to Israel, and the Western news media, the Palestinians are “terrorists” who were “rioting” and threatening Israeli lives. Though 15 Palestinian civilians were killed and more than 750 others injured by Israeli sniper gunfire, no Israelis were injured.
The Western media also barely mentioned that many of the protesters were carrying olive tree saplings to replant. Israel has cleared large areas of the border inside the Gaza Strip destroying farmlands and homes that Israel deemed are too close to the Israeli border.
Israel does that a lot. Whenever it wants to “protect” it’s Jewish citizens, it erects electrified fences, stone walls and concentration camp-like sniper towers, not on the border but deep inside Palestinian areas to expand land that Israel can annex.
This conflict is all about land, something Israel takes pains to deny in intensive PR propaganda campaigns to influence public opinion.
The protests this past week mark two events, the Nakba, the Arab world for “catastrophe” used to commemorate the date when Israel forcibly evicted 800,000 Palestinian civilians from their homes in the Israeli initiated conflict in 1947-1948 leading to the creation of Israel, a state that discriminates against non-Jewish citizens.
Israel will expel any foreign journalist working in occupied Jerusalem that repeatedly uses the word “Nakba” in its reporting. In 2012, Israel passed a law that punishes anyone in Israel who criticizes Israel’s independence or uses the word “Nakba” to describe that independence date. The law was defended by the Israeli Supreme Court on Jan. 5, 2012.
The protests also commemorate when on March 30, 1976 Israel killed 6 Israeli Arab “citizens” protesting land confiscations from non-Jews. Several hundred Israeli Arabs were injured, although the Israeli media minimized the incident while Western media ignores Israeli government violence against Israel’s Arab citizens.
No Israeli officials, soldiers or police were ever charged in the murder of the six Israeli Arab citizens killed in cold blood on that date because Israel’s Government propaganda machine manages the news media, controls the message, and bullies any journalist who thinks about being objective.
(Ray Hanania is a Palestinian American columnist, veteran political journalist and author of several books, including “Power PR” and “Yalla! Fight Back.” Reach him through his website at www.Hanania.com.)