Media’s Israel/Palestine Coverage Presents False Equivalency

Media coverage of heightened violence in Israel/Palestine has misrepresented events in the Israeli government’s favor
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Media coverage of heightened violence in Israel/Palestine has misrepresented events in the Israeli government’s favor by suggesting that Israel is acting defensively, presenting a false equivalency between occupier and occupied, and burying information necessary to understand the scale of Israeli brutality.

Corporate media have presented Israel’s killing spree as defensive, as a reaction to supposed Palestinian aggression.

A Financial Times headline (5/10/21) read, “Hamas Rocket Attacks Provoke Israeli Retaliation in Gaza.” The New York Times’ description (5/12/21) was, “Hamas launched long-range rockets at Jerusalem on Monday evening, prompting Israel to respond with airstrikes.”

An article in Newsweek (5/12/21) had it that “Hamas rained down rockets on Israeli civilian targets, and the Israeli military responded with surgical air strikes against Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza.” A CNN headline (5/12/21) said, “At Least 35 Killed in Gaza as Israel Ramps Up Airstrikes in Response to Rocket Attacks.”

The Wall Street Journal (5/12/21) ran the headline, “Hamas Attack on Israel Aims to Capitalize on Palestinian Frustration,” which makes it sound as if Israel were simply minding its own business and Hamas lashed out for no reason. The Journal reinforced this impression by describing Israel’s bombing of Gaza as merely a “response” to and a “counterstrike” against the rockets from Palestinian resistance factions.

Imagine for a moment that the entire history of Israel/Palestine began on May 10. Even then, Hamas’ rocket fire was a follow through on its promise (Ynet, 5/10/21) to fire rockets in “response” to and “retaliation” against Israel if the latter didn’t remove its forces from the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheik Jarrah, where Israel has been attempting to force Palestinians from their homes and repressing the resultant protests, and from the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which Israel had just raided during Ramadan, Islam’s holiest month (Jacobin, 5/14/21).

More to the point is that Israel, and its forerunners in the Zionist movement, have been carrying out a war against Palestinians for over 100 years, so Israeli self-defense against Palestinians is a logical impossibility (Electronic Intifada, 7/26/18). As an occupying power, Israel does not have a legal right to claim self-defense against the people it occupies (Truthout, 5/14/21).

Israel has been subjecting Gaza to a military siege for 12–14 years, depending on the metric one uses to determine the starting point, which has left the territory effectively unlivable (Jacobin, 3/31/20); a siege is an act of war, so the party enforcing it cannot claim to be acting defensively in response to anything that happened subsequent to the start of the blockade.

Read rest at FAIR.

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