News reporting on the Israel/Occupied Gaza war in the New Zealand media is appalling. It is so often inaccurately reported, is heavily biased in favour of Israel and is almost wholly Eurocentric.
Virtually all the coverage on TV, radio and newspapers comes from US or UK news services (BBC Reuters and AP) and newspapers. It inevitably has the geography wrong, (not using the word “occupied” to describe Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem) as well as never describing the Israeli military as an occupation army and always labels the Palestinian resistance with negative stereotypes such as “militants” or “terrorists” – the same descriptions as given to Nelson Mandela and the ANC.
We know by heart the familiar argument that “any individual story cannot cover all aspects of the Israeli occupation of Palestine but that, over time, all aspects will be covered and therefore the “balance” is provided over the longer term”. The facts tell a different story.
Where are the Palestinian voices?
Wide coverage is given, day after day, to Israeli spokespeople in most stories with rudimentary reporting, if any, from Palestinian viewpoints.
Media responses to protests here:
For the first two weeks reporting on the protests PSNA organised against Israel’s response to the October 7 attacks was non-existent despite thousands turning out around the country. We are aware of approaches to the media from the pro-Israel lobby to downplay, silence or smother our strong criticism of Israel. The media are frequently bullied with claims the Jewish community feels afraid and nervous when Israel is called an apartheid state or people campaign for BDS against Israel and too often the media plays along.
Many Jewish New Zealanders are taking part in the rallies to declare Israel does not speak for them and in at least two of the rallies last Saturday Jewish speakers spoke strongly against Israel’s bombing of civilians in Gaza and called for justice for Palestinians.
When making decisions to consider the feelings of a section of one group it must not be at the expense of the deep trauma and vulnerability in the Palestinian community and the real and justified anger Palestinians and their supporters feel at the epic tragedy unfolding in war crimes against the Palestinian people.
Israeli sensitivities dominate Palestinian sensitivities. In modern parlance the pro-Israel lobby is being “platformed” against Palestinians.
Israel’s genocidal behaviour:
The genocidal talk of Israeli politicians has become genocidal practice. The occupation army has trapped 2.3 million people in a densely packed area, deprived them of food, water, fuel and electricity and then rained death and destruction on them from the skies, so far killing over 8,000 civilians and over 3,000 children.
Despite this being a humanitarian outrage the New Zealand media are effectively riding shotgun for Israel with no hint it should be held to account for its crimes against humanity and the flouting of international law.
Politicians off the hook:
The outgoing and incoming governments have called for a “humanitarian pause” which we have likened to calling for a tea break before the slaughter of Palestinians is allowed to continue. It’s an outrageous response to these circumstances.
The government has condemned the killing of Israeli civilians. However, the government has not condemned Israel’s outrageous war crimes, such as “collective punishment” of the civilian population. This slaughter of Palestinian civilians is being played out before our eyes while our politicians look the other way. The media are keen to report condemnation of attacks on Israeli civilians but also happy to let our cowardly politicians off the hook when Palestinians are slaughtered.
- Are Labour and National appalled at the withholding of food and water from a civilian population by Israel?
- Do they support the bombing and wholesale slaughter of Palestinians now taking place?
- Do they agree with the Israeli President that there are “no innocents in Gaza”?
- Do they agree Israel is engaged in “collective punishment” of Palestinians – a war crime under the Fourth Geneva Convention?
- What would it take for the Israeli ambassador to be sent home?
- Are they OK with seeing Israeli plans for another Nakba in Gaza?
- Why hasn’t New Zealand called for the ICC to launch a swift comprehensive investigation into all war crimes in this war since October 7th – including the crimes of genocide and apartheid? The west did so with Russia/Ukraine so why not with Israel/Gaza
Our government is muttering about respect for international law while giving the green light to Israel’s genocidal treatment of the Palestinian people.
Palestine has been the most dangerous place to be a journalist for a long time and this has stepped up significantly in the current war where journalists have been specifically targeted by Israel close to the border with Lebanon and Al Jazeera journalist, Wael Dahdouh, has had his family killed.
Why doesn’t the New Zealand media use local Palestinian journalists on the ground in Gaza? These are the brave reporters who put their lives on the line to tell the truth. Instead we are using journalists behind typewriters in London or Jerusalem or on the Israeli side of the Gaza fence.
We understand the media faces competing pressures but in this case you have got it so wrong. It’s time to call out the bullies, stand with the victims rather than “platforming” the oppressors, condemn Israel’s genocidal behaviour and give clear space to Palestinian voices.
Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa