Reporting on the “Middle East conflict” (never reported as it should be as “the Israeli military occupation of Palestine”) has a long history of anti-Palestinian racism.
New Zealand reporting on events in the last 10 days has reinforced all the long-standing anti-Palestinian tropes that dominate western reporting. These biases are so hard-baked into our media that news editors and reporters adopt them without thinking – just the way Israel and the US expect.
- Israelis are never the aggressors and never the terrorists – never!
- Palestinians are the always the aggressors
- Palestinians who resist military occupation are always “militants” or “terrorists”
- No matter how many civilians are killed it is always the Palestinians’ fault
- It’s OK to have sympathy for Palestinians, but only when their children are battered and mangled and in that case the Palestinian leadership is to blame anyway
- Israel never starts trouble – it is always Palestinians and Palestinians who provoke and attack Israel
- Israeli lives lost are always in “terrorist attacks” while Palestinians lives are lost in an Israeli military response to terrorism
- Israel always has the right to defend itself – Palestinians don’t have that right
- Israel offers peace deals, Palestinians always reject peace
- Israel is a democracy (a racist apartheid state can never be a democracy)
- Settlers attacks Palestinians – ignore it
- Settlers bulldoze olive groves – ignore it
- Settlers drive Palestinians off their land – ignore it
- Israel builds more illegal Jewish-only settlements on Palestinian land – ignore it
- Israeli leaders make dehumanising comments about Palestinians – ignore it
- Any Palestinian making dehumanising comments about Jews – highlight and condemn
- When Israeli settlers chant “Kill the Arabs – may their villages burn” – ignore it. When a Palestinian says “Gas the Jews” – highlight and condemn
- Israel conducts raids in the west bank where Palestinians are killed – it’s an anti-terror operation.
- When Palestinians fight back it’s always terrorism
- Israelis steal Palestinians land – “contested land”
- When Palestinians try to reoccupy stolen land – “terrorism”
- Palestinians attacking settlers – militants or terrorists
- Israelis attack Palestinians – provocation caused it
- Israeli leaders make statements – fulsome coverage
- Palestinian leaders make statements – ignore or reframe as from a “terror” group
- Never explain the ethnic cleansing that created Gaza as it is today
- Above all – never report on the Nakba – never! – just on the Holocaust
When coverage is needed on local responses to Israel/Palestine
- Give regular coverage to pro-Israel lobby – quote extensively
- Give limited, if any, coverage to local Palestinian voices
- Palestinian solidarity protests in New Zealand – complete media blackout – don’t report it (RNZ says “small peaceful solidarity actions” have been held in NZ – in fact large, angry demonstrations up and down the country last weekend with more to come this weekend)
- Never ask the government to explain why they refuse to call for a ceasefire, an end to bloodshed, an end to violence in Gaza (this is because the US doesn’t want them to)
- Accept and extensively report on government condemnation of Israeli civilians killed (A war crime under Fourth Geneva Convention) but don’t ask the government why it refuses to condemn Israeli war crimes (bombing a densely populated civilian area while withholding food, water, electricity and fuel is a war crime – genocide in fact)
The past two weeks we have been super-saturated with the Eurocentric view of the “conflict in the middle east” (as I said earlier it is never reported as the “Israeli military occupation of Palestine”)
Our newspapers have been dominated with endless reports from the likes of the Washington Post, Telegraph group BBC, AP and Reuters stories. All of which follow the guidelines above.
I’ve written before about appalling framing of the Israeli military occupation.
Western Politicians and western media are the source of the problem. If this war had been reported accurately from the outset, Palestinians would have the state of Palestine where religion, ethnicity and human rights were respected – as they were before European colonisation of Palestine early last century.