Palestinian Lives Matter: Media bias and double standards

A woman takes a picture of an installation set up by a global civic organization Avaaz ahead of the EU council meeting in Brussels on 28 May, 2018. 4500 shoes representing every life lost in the Israel-Palestine conflict since 2009 have been displayed ahead of the EU Foreign ministers meeting.AFP

The US mainstream media coverage of the Israel-Hamas war has raised public outcry in not just the US, but across many other parts of the world. In social media sites, scathing remarks and comments have been targeted towards CNN, MSNBC and other mainstream outlets for their lack of objectivity when it comes to the Israel-Palestinian issue. Such outlets have also been accused of being complicit in growing Israeli war crimes in Gaza.

With the humanitarian situation deteriorating by the days and a staggering civilian death toll, many eyebrows are raised on how the American media appear to conceal Israel’s constant disregard of international laws and even the Geneva Convention - as is evident by the latest images of stripped Palestinian prisoners. In addition, several UN workers and journalists (mostly from Al Jazeera) have been killed while on duty and even aid convoys reaching out to stranded Gaza residents, near the Rafah border with Egypt, were targeted by Israeli airstrikes.

Their reporters mostly report from Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities but hardly ever from the besieged Gaza strip whereas journalists from Al Jazeera are endlessly trying to make the plight of the Palestinians be known the rest of the world by reporting from the war zones in Gaza and southern Lebanon. Al Jazeera’s efforts made the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza be known globally, including in the United States where many got one-sided Israeli narrative from the mainstream media for a considerable period of time.

Censorship and media bias

Afterwards, many social media influencers and online political analysts began to take a more active stance on the Palestinian cause by publishing videos and articles in order to contribute in their own ways for the citizens of Gaza. Unfortunately, there were also consequences. Many YouTube channels have been demonetized by the YouTube algorithm and in extreme cases, accounts are even taken down. As a result of which, the respective channel admins are trying to publish their contents in Rumble - another social media platform but with a far lesser audience reach.

Pro-Palestinian writers and TV guests often become targeted and harassed online. This is very visible in western talk shows where pro-Palestinian experts constantly get asked “Do you condemn October 7?” Moreover, Jewish experts like Norman Finkelstein and Noam Chomsky who have condemned Israel’s actions in Gaza (and are critical of Israel in general) have been accused of anti-Semitism and not even invited to mainstream panel to voice their opinions on the subject.

While everyone agrees that October 7 was certainly a tragedy for humanity, it’s equally important to understand why such violence unfolded in the first place by taking a look at the many events that were happening prior to October 7. The fact that Palestinians have been living in a state of displacement, occupation, oppression and discrimination for the last seventy-five years, is a subject that hardly ever gets touched  the western press.

War crimes

Not just in Gaza but also in the occupied West Bank, numerous incidents of settler attacks unfolded over the past years that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Palestinians. Thousands of Palestinians were forcefully detained - among whom there are teenagers. In the occupied East Jerusalem, there have been numerous clashes in 2022 between the Israeli police and the Palestinians, where hundreds were arrested and shot at.

It’s also important to acknowledge that collective punishment does not justify an atrocity, therefore Israel’s mass killings of civilians in Gaza deserve to be called out for what it is - war crime. Mosques have been blown up, hospitals and civilian infrastructures have been indiscriminately targeted. The latest figures which can be obtained are from World Health Organization (WHO) by 30 November, which has documented 427 attacks on healthcare facilities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that caused around 566 fatalities and 758 injuries.

While Israel has accused Hamas of storing caches of weapons and personnel in hospital complexes, it also did not provide any evidence behind these claims which were independently verified. Therefore, the country’s narrative for the justification of attacks on hospitals has been debunked by notable organizations like Human Rights Watch.

Suppression of campus activities

Not just online censorship, but people are facing restrictions in applying freedom of speech and expressions in the streets and college campuses as well. During the start of Israel’s onslaught on Gaza, several Jewish people protested in the streets of Washington DC before the Congress. One such notable incident was on October 19 2023 when some 500 people got arrested following demonstrations against Netanyahu’s administration. Many of those protesters were wearing ‘Not in our name’ shirts.

A recent incident sparked much controversy and it is that of the resignation of the presidents of Harvard and Penn universities. Rumors are that the MIT president will soon follow suit. The resignations come after an intense hearing of these three individuals in the US senate on 5 December 2023, regarding pro-Palestine protests in the campuses of the three respective universities. The senate hearing was led by Elise Stefanik - a far-right Republican congresswoman and a staunch supporter of former president Donald Trump - who accused the three chairpersons of permitting the rise of ‘anti-Semitism’ in university campuses.

Jewish lobbies in US power structure

Curiously enough, Stefanik appears to be just a mere front figure in this episode. The shadowy figure who really happened to pull the strings from behind is none other than hedge fund manager Bill Ackman - a Jewish American billionaire. Previously, when students from these universities signed a letter on behalf of the Palestinians against Israel’s actions in Gaza, Ackman called on the authorities of Harvard University to publish the names of all the students involved in this act so that he could ensure his company among many others would not hire these students as future employees (note that Ackman is the CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management corporation).

It’s also interesting to note that Ackman’s second wife is an Israeli American designer and that he has funded for many notable Jewish Democrat Party candidates like Michael Bloomberg, Richard Blumenthal and Chuck Schumer - figures whom the corporate mainstream media like CNN and MSNBC  hardly ever criticize.

It is no secret that Jewish lobbies like AIPAC hold a tremendous power and influence in the upper echelon of the American society, to the point that they can influence the American congress in many of its decision makings regarding domestic and foreign affairs. They also have a sway on the corporate media which is why there happens to be so much censorship and lack of criticism aimed at Israel.

Glaring double standards  

 Israel happens to be America’s focal point in Middle East strategy and Joe Biden made it very clear in his last address to the nation speech that Israel’s success is “vital for American security”. The US secretary of state Antony Blinken has approved military aid to Israel without Congress vote, two times thus far after October 7. The US has also been accused of hypocrisy and double standards by several political experts and analysts like Marwan Bishara over its claims of supporting human rights.

While many US companies provided humanitarian aid to Ukraine in order to better protect the civilians against Russian bombardments (such as providing Starlink), the same cannot be said of the Palestinians. On the contrary, these same very companies have provided aid and assistance to Israel which many see as glaring examples of deteriorating Western values.

In addition, when Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, the entire Western world reacted by placing numerous sanctions on Russia as well as kicking the country out of SWIFT world bank. However, despite Israel’s relentless bombing of Gaza under the guise of ‘self-defense’, not a single economic sanction has been placed upon the country by any of the Western states. On the contrary, the Netherlands, Britain and the US have pledged more financial aid to the Jewish state due to the economic difficulties the country is facing because of the ongoing war.

Furthermore, White House spokesperson John Kirby stated that there would be ‘no red line’ for Israel in the ongoing conflict which goes on to suggest that the nation would be be free to do whatever it wants. The US has vetoed every possible resolution - calling for a ceasefire - so far at the UN and the last one was on 12 December 2023 where 153 countries voted in favor of the resolution, 23 abstained and 10 voted against. Among the 10 was the US, thereby making it difficult - if not outright impossible - for any solution to the current mass slaughter.

Civilians in many developed and developing countries have taken to the streets to voice their support for the Palestinians, as well as call for a permanent ceasefire and a two-state solution. Tens of thousands all over the world have started to boycott Israeli products like McDonalds.

Divide and conquer strategy  

One has to admit that America’s Middle East strategy of ‘divide and conquer’ has worked out well, especially for Israel. The US invaded Iraq in 2003 under the pretext of Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction which eventually turned out to be untrue. Two decades later, America still occupies parts of Iraq to - as they say - counter ISIS threats in the region. Northeastern Syria is also under the occupation of US and that part of the world happens to be one of the most oil rich regions in the Middle East.

The NATO bombing of Libya and funding Saudi Arabia’s war against the Houthi rebels in Yemen as well as the war in Afghanistan are some of the other proxy and direct conflicts the US has been involved in the last two decades. Nonetheless, the destabilization of the Middle East is something that has deteriorated the unity among Arab nations who happen to have very light stance on the Palestinian cause. The reason is very obvious - these countries have strategic interests with the US.

Saudi Arabia and Jordan have US military bases, as does Turkey. This can be thought of a deterrent measure to contain Iran since both - the US and Israel - see the former as a regional threat, much like Russia in Europe. Therefore, unlike the European unity against Russian war crimes in Ukraine, the Arab nations cannot find a common ground to take a strong, united stance against Israeli war crimes despite the sheer mounting evidence. Nor are these Arab countries implementing any economic actions on Israel by - let’s say - placing oil embargoes and cutting off trade deals like what most of the European nations did with Russia in the aftermath of its invasion of Ukraine.

Glimmer of hope

There is some ray of hope despite all the overwhelming negativities. Ireland has voiced its support for Palestine, having had its share of past colonial occupation under Britain. Civilians in many developed and developing countries have taken to the streets to voice their support for the Palestinians, as well as call for a permanent ceasefire and a two-state solution. Tens of thousands all over the world have started to boycott Israeli products like McDonalds.

Independent journalists like Glen Greenwald, Richard Medhurst, Amy Goodman, Emil Cosman among many others have taken to social media platform to cover the current geopolitical incidents in a different light than the mainstream narrative. In fact, judging by the recent number of likes and views, it can well be assumed that these independent heroes are successful in making people know more about the distress of the Palestinians in Gaza and West Bank.

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