Thursday, October 22, 2015

In the War of Information, Truth is the Loser

Since mid-September, violence in Israel/Palestine has spiraled out of control. 

Threats to the religious integrity of Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque have prompted a spate of stabbings by disaffected Palestinian youth on Israeli police, military personnel, and random citizens.

The deaths of eight Jewish Israelis from these attacks have led to an extreme crackdown by Israeli security forces.

According to the Ministry of Health, since October 1, 2015, 64 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire and 7200 injured in the West Bank and Jeruselem, many of whom were only suspected of engaging in violence. See stats here. The Palestinian Medical Relief Society reports that Israeli security has targeted medical professionals, first aid providers, nurses, and ambulance drivers with live fire and metal bullets. Forty one journalists have been injured.
In the Israeli street, fear and rage have taken over. Racist mobs roam the streets of Jerusalem shouting "Death to Arabs." Video footage circulating on social media in mid-October showed 13-year-old Ahmad Manasra, whose limbs lay at unnatural angles after being run over following a knife attack in the Pisgat Zeev settlement near East Jerusalem (here). As he attempts to rise, onlookers taunt him: "Die! Son of a whore, die," and exhort police to "give him one in the head." Other videos show young people being shot with their hands raised, apparently in surrender, or shot in the back as they try to flee.

Instead of calming the population and reining in the police, some Israeli politicians and senior police officers have openly called for the extrajudicial killing of suspects and have urged civilians to carry weapons. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu recently added more fuel to the fire by claiming, bizarrely, that it was Jerusalem’s Grand Mufti who persuaded Adolf Hitler to exterminate the Jews. It took German Chancellor Angela Merkel to correct Netanyahu’s distorted view of history.

Despite the mayhem, mainstream US media continue to ignore Palestinian deaths and injuries and the decades of repression, isolation, and enforced poverty that have brought Palestinian youth to the breaking point. As Jewish Voice for Peace reports, “no media organization is more influential in shaping the way American policymakers and news outlets think about Israel and Palestine than the New York Times. But with some notable exceptions, the Times has done a shamefully poor job of including the historical and political context readers need to understand the roots of the current uprising.”

Some examples: Over 50% of New York Times headlines depicted Palestinians as the instigators of violence, while no headlines depicted Israelis as aggressors. 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 “attack(s)” or “attackers” were used 110 times to describe Palestinian actions and people, and 17 times to describe Israelis.

Nor has the U.S. media reported the coalitions of Palestinians and Israelis who are marching together, vowing, "We will not surrender to despair!"

Peace Now
Please join PIAG in responding to one-sided media reports by calling, writing, or posting comments that add missing information and context, which can be found on alternative media such as Democracy Now, Juan Cole’s Informed Comment, the American Friends Service Committee and other posts on PIAG's blog.

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