Friday, October 30, 2015

But, It's the "Truth"

How can you turn a true story into a lie? It’s simple. The New York Times,  CNN and Fox News do it often. Here’s how it works:


Never mention that the “stone throwers” are on their own land trying to defend their own homes against the tanks and bulldozers of an occupying force, and that it is the longest occupation in modern history.  In fact, the word “occupation” is seldom seen in the US media and when it is, it is used as a part of “the occupied West Bank,” as though no one is responsible.  It’s just the way things are. But, if there is no occupation in the story, there is no story. Yet, “Only 4 percent of U.S. Networks mention “occupation” as part of the story.[1]  They focus more on Palestinian rage without addressing reasons for the rage.  And they never present Israel as the aggressor against mostly unarmed youth but only as defending itself against the “aggressor.”  Even murder is presented as “self-defense.”


Again, present the aggressor as the victim. Rarely show Palestinian rage as reaction to years of brutal occupation of West Bank and blockade of Gaza. Write about rockets. Make no mention of Israeli accountability for closures, curfews, Jewish only roads, the uprooting of olive trees and the denial of basic human rights including separate laws for settlers and Palestinians. In fact it is better to not mention settlers at all.  It might raise the question, “On whose land have these occupiers settled? Never raise such questions as the right to leave and reenter ones own country and the humiliation of having Israel’s sewage and waste dumped in your neighborhood.  It’s easy to distort the facts. First rule is just choose what to leave out and second, set up the frame.

On October 10, 2015, Jewish Voice for Peace circulated a petition entitled: Tell the New York Times: We need Accurate Reporting on Israel and Palestine, saying, The Times’ headlines consistently frame Israel as the victim, completely misrepresenting an uprising which is a response to decades of displacement, occupation and repression:

--Over 50% of headlines depicted Palestinians as the instigators of violence, while no headlines depicted Israelis as aggressors.
--No headlines referenced racist mobs that have roamed the streets of Jerusalem shouting “Death to Arabs.”
--Palestinians were referred to as terrorists 41 times, while the term was used four times (including quotes from Palestinians) to refer to violent Israeli actions intended to terrorize Palestinians.
--The terms “violent” or “violence” were used 36 times to refer to Palestinians, and 2 times to refer to Israelis.
--The terms “attack(s)” or “attackers” were used 110 times to describe Palestinian actions and people, and 17 times to describe Israelis.


Count the tears of the aggressor. Paint the poor combat armed Israeli soldier as the “real” victim. Give him a name, talk to his parents and friends. Interview his father sobbing, “He was such a good boy.” Show their pain. 

On the other hand, if the victim is a Palestinian, never show him as a real person with feelings, a family and dreams for a future. Show no empathy.  He is a non-person. Someone said, “The rule is: If it’s a Palestinian perpetrator, exaggerate his crime. If the perpetrator is an Israeli, the crime didn’t happen”

Rev. Dr. Mitri Reheb, Pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem wrote:

            Dear Friends,

A new wave of political unrest is here. Within the last five weeks, over forty young people from Palestine were killed and over 1100 injured. These are not mere numbers, but young people with faces, names, and dreams. Yet, as if their lives do not matter, the Israelis are easing their already loose laws on using arms with a clear message of shoot to kill. For the Israeli government, these young Palestinians are rebels that do not deserve to live. They must be taught a lesson. To add insult to injury, you hear the western politicians talking about Israel’s right to defend itself, and standing shamelessly with Israel.

He then adds: “Their lives matter to God.” 


When an Israeli missile struck meters away from the Hassan family home south of Gaza City, crushing the sleeping family inside, Haaretz qualified the reports:

            Palestinians Say Pregnant Woman, Child Killed following Israeli Strike in Gaza.

The New York Times added that the bombing was “retaliatory,” implying that the victims were at least partially responsible for their deaths and joined in raising doubt about the story’s accuracy by saying, “Israeli Retaliatory Strike in Gaza Kills Woman and Child, Palestinians say.[2]  


Ignore the recent bombings and needless deaths of Palestinians, Israel’s cynical restriction on the food allowed into Gaza, control of imports and exports to destroy any hope of economic stability.  And heaven forbid, never mention road blocks, check points, the wall or theft of Palestinian land for settlements.  Such one sided reporting by most US media is not an anomaly:

Last year when Israel bombed and strafed Gaza for 51 days, resulting in more than 2,200 deaths, of which 75% were civilians, CNN brought on one Israeli spokesperson after the other. From Benjamin Netanyahu to Mark Regev; from Lt Col. Peter Lerner to Alan Dershowitz; Americans were subjected to uninterrupted coverage of Israel’s version of events…while CNN often operates essentially as Israeli state media, outlets like the Wall Street Journal openly demonize the Palestinians as “blood lust.”[3]

Huffington Post reports that a House Committee meeting on the current wave of violence in Jerusalem concluded that the current instability is caused by Palestinian leaders encouraging their people to kill Israelis. Eliot Engel, ranking member of the committee lamented, “It is heartbreaking to wake up seemingly every morning to a new report of a stabbing or a shooting of innocent civilian in Israel.” 

However Mr. Engel failed to express concern for the 21 Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces just this month (October) despite having no connection to terrorist attacks.  He did not mention the Israeli teen who stabbed four Arabs saying, “All Arabs are terrorist.” Nor did he mention that between January and July of this year, settler violence caused 42 casualties.[4]

In the first month of Israel’s “shoot to kill” policy, 16 Palestinians have been killed in West Bank and Gaza and more than 1,000 bullet injuries have been reported.[5]

 Lop-sided reporting comes easy for the U.S. media.  They have had a lot of practice. 

Thomas Are
October 30, 2015

[1] Media Educational Foundation Documentary, Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land , U.S. Media and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. 2004
[2] Mondoweiss,  Haaretz and New York Times Whitewash deadly airstrike on Sleeping Gaza Family. October 12, 2015.
[3] Mondoweiss,  You Can’t Say U.S. Media is Reporting Violence in Israel-Palestine in an Evenhanded Manner.,  October 22, 2015.
[4] Jessica Schulberg, Foreign Affairs Reporter, The Huffington Post, Do Palestinian Lives Matter?
 October 2, 2015.
[5] Mondoweiss,  You Can’t Say U.S. Media is Reporting Violence in Israel-Palestine in an Evenhanded Manner.,  October 22, 2015.