Human rights advocates and progressives in Congress on Monday slammed the corporate media for perpetuating anti-Palestinian sentiments in their reporting on the violence in Gaza and Israel over the weekend.
Major newspapers gave little in-depth information or a timeline regarding the Israeli military's killing of four Palestinians at a protest on Friday—one of the weekly demonstrations Palestinians have held for more than a year to call for an end to illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, blockades which have led to food and medicine shortages, and ongoing attacks by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).
Instead, major news sources reported mainly on more than 200 rockets which Hamas and the Islamic Jihad launched into Israel and Israeli settlements, writing that Israel retaliated for those attacks and ignoring what led up to the rocket strikes.
The rocket strikes on Saturdayfrom Gaza killed four people, while Israel's airstrikes which were launched later killed at least 23, including two pregnant women and two infants.
As TRT World reported Monday, "Palestinian deaths are primarily viewed as 'retaliation' by international media outlets, while Israeli deaths would never receive that kind coverage."
In February, the United Nations said that Israeli soldiers who attack Palestinians at peaceful protests could be found liable for war crimes.
Critics directly confronted several news outlets on social media for printing headlines suggesting that the rocket strikes were spontaneous acts of violence.
This is a stunningly irresponsible and misleading headline. Israel shot dozens of unarmed Palestinian protestors in Gaza on Friday and killed 4 Palestinians, including two protesters, in Gaza before any projectiles were launched. pic.twitter.com/vue25YNRch
— (((YousefMunayyer))) (@YousefMunayyer) May 5, 2019
It also highlights the orientalist lens thru which western media covers Israel/Palestine - where Israeli life is considered far more valuable than Palestinian life - news always starts when Israeli life is threatened while harm to Palestinian life is not news but "normal".
— (((YousefMunayyer))) (@YousefMunayyer) May 5, 2019
A quick thread on Gaza.
4 Palestinian protesters killed in Gaza by Israel on Friday, BEFORE rocket fire out of Gaza. But what are today's headlines?
CNN: "430 rockets fired from Gaza, Israel responds with airstrikes"
BBC: "Gaza rocket barrage prompts Israel strikes" (1/?)
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— Omar Baddar (@OmarBaddar) May 5, 2019
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), the first Palestinian-American woman to serve in the U.S. Congress, denounced the New York Times for a headline reading, "Gaza Militants Fire 250 Rockets, and Israel Responds With Airstrikes."
"Headlines like this and framing it in this way just feeds into the continued lack of responsibility on Israel who unjustly oppress and target Palestinian children and families," wrote Tlaib.
When will the world stop dehumanizing our Palestinian people who just want to be free? Headlines like this & framing it in this way just feeds into the continued lack of responsibility on Israel who unjustly oppress & target Palestinian children and families. #FreePalestine https://t.co/p3X3j8WtwM
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) May 5, 2019
Author and professor Saree Makdisi also wrote Monday about newspapers' choices regarding the language with which they describe Palestinians and Israelis, and how such choices leave news consumers with little sense of the reality on the ground:
The way sentences are constructed and the word choices made ('militant,' 'retaliation,' etc.) frame the story in such a way that the story is told before it even really begins, because the words have done their work. (Once you hear that a state is 'retaliating' for 'militant' rocket fire, what more do you really need to know? And how different would it be if you read that the rockets were being fired in 'retaliation' for years of occupation?). 'Militant' is used to describe Palestinians but not Israelis (who are presumably peaceable).
TRT World also noted that CNN failed to mention the pregnant civilians' deaths in Gaza until the sixth paragraph of its report on the violence. Journalist Katie Halper wrote that neglecting to report on the deaths of routinely-persecuted Palestinians amounted to "double dehumanization."
And his pregnant wife was killed as well. These people just don’t exist or are sub-human for the media. It’s a double dehumanization. They’re murdered and then their deaths are ignored. It’s sickening and these images should be front page news. https://t.co/hmXCY9LdrU
— Katie Halper (@kthalps) May 6, 2019
Tlaib's colleague in Congress, fellow progressive Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), attempted to correct the record put forth by a number of influential news sources—writing on Twitter that "the status quo of occupation and humanitarian crisis in Gaza is unsustainable" and that its continuation will only result in continued violence in the region.
How many more protesters must be shot, rockets must be fired, and little kids must be killed until the endless cycle of violence ends?
The status quo of occupation and humanitarian crisis in Gaza is unsustainable. Only real justice can bring about security and lasting peace.
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) May 5, 2019