Palestinians inspect the ruins of Watan Tower destroyed in Israeli airstrikes Palestinians inspect the ruins of Watan Tower destroyed in Israeli airstrikes. Source: Wafa (ASA Media) - Wikimedia / cropped from original / shared under license CC BY-SA 3.0

The consistent bias shown by Western mainstream media in its coverage of Palestine and Israel is being challenged as never before, argues Raisa Ahmed

The indiscriminate carpet bombing of Gaza by the settler colonial state of Israel has continued into its third week. It is hard to put into words the surreal nature of livestreaming a genocide on social media. However, if you get your news exclusively from Western mainstream media (MSM), you will have been painted a very different picture. Despite the unremitting PR propaganda and attempts at censorship, the West and Israel appear to be losing the information war online.

MSM are not only having to contend with increasing levels of anger from Arab and Muslim communities, whom they have dehumanised for decades but also a shift in public perception in the West. People around the world are being confronted with horrific raw live footage on social media from Palestinian journalists in Gaza. Prominent MSM journalists are turning off the comments section on their personal social-media accounts, as they are bombarded with accusations of deliberately misrepresenting the facts. In an effort to seek the truth, many are turning to other news sources with the growing realisation that their government and media are sanctioning a genocide of an oppressed indigenous population.

Since the Israeli onslaught began on 7 October, 1.4 million people have been displaced and roughly 42% of homes have been bombed in Gaza. More than 7000 Palestinians, including almost 3000 children, have been killed. This is likely to be a gross underestimate, as many bodies remain under the rubble. At least fifty family lineages have been obliterated. More than 16,000 are injured, many critical, and will most certainly die unless they receive timely medical care (56 health facilities have been bombed). This seems impossible in the current situation, as Western governments continue unequivocally to support Israel’s brutal genocidal campaign in Gaza: the ‘largest concentration camp in the world’, as Baruch Kimmerling (an eminent Hebrew University sociologist) called it. 

Much of the propaganda and rhetoric in support of Israel is reminiscent of the ‘war on terror’ and the Iraq war. Famously, George Bush Jr announced, ‘either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists’ in 2001, and since then, not much has changed. The same tactics are at play to homogenise and otherise an entire non-white population as evil terrorists who deserve to die in the name of Western self-defence and freedom. Of course, we all know now how consent for the Iraq war was manufactured with weapons of mass destruction that did not exist, a war that cost more than one-million Iraqi lives, with no consequences for Western leaders or MSM who propagated this lie. 

False stories, misrepresentation, and ignorance

On 7 October, Hamas broke out of Gaza and attacked. The Israeli occupation forces reported 1400 Israelis had been killed by Hamas, including children, and 220 hostages being taken. The most shocking claim of forty babies being brutally beheaded went viral. This report was initially disseminated by CNN journalist, Sara Snider and amplified the calls for severe retribution, that Hamas must be punished no matter the cost. US President Biden even announced in a press conference that he had seen the gruesome photos with his own eyes. Shortly after Israel started pounding Gaza with bombs, the report was found to be false.

The Israeli occupation forces, the Israeli government, and White House were forced to admit there was no credible evidence to support the claims. Snider later apologised on X, but to date, there has been no on-air retraction. She was recently confronted by angry pro-Palestinian demonstrators in Ramallah, West Bank live on air with a man calling her and CNN, ‘genocide supporters’. Another renowned CNN journalist, Clarissa Ward was confronted by a young Egyptian woman, Rahma Zein, at the Rafah border in a clip that went viral. She called Ward a mouthpiece for the US government and expressed her anger at the continued misrepresentation of Arabs: ‘where are our voices? Our voices need to be heard as well … we have been watching your channel and instead of mourning our dead, instead of mourning these Palestinian children, we have been having to deal with more dehumanisation of Arabs …’

Rahma later explained that CNN was the only Western channel that attended the UN convoy’s attempt to cross the border, whereas regional and other Arab news channels reported from the ground where the volunteers were staying: with ‘… proper coverage, you come, you stay three days, six days before and you actually cover on the ground what these volunteers are going through, bearing in mind a lot of these people have family on the other side…’ The lack of knowledge of the reality for Palestinians was also demonstrated during an interview between CNN anchor, Wolf Blitzer and Dr Barbara Zind, an American Paediatrician who went to Gaza on a medical mission. Blitzer obliviously asked whether she could go to a bomb shelter after intense explosions were heard and she calmly replied that there are no bomb shelters in Gaza.

At the heart of MSM reporting is misrepresentation, dehumanisation, and hypocrisy. Mohammad El-Kurd (Palestinian poet, writer, journalist, and activist) argued that MSM do not interview Palestinians, they interrogate. This is demonstrated by MSM’s obsessive line of questioning that is limited to, ‘do you condemn Hamas?’, without acknowledging the 75 years of brutal Israeli military occupation and the apartheid system to which Palestinians are subjugated. Political analyst and activist, Nour Odeh challenged Sky News reporter, Mark Austin, ‘we seem to be obsessed with asking the same questions… demanding some sort of line be drawn between good guys and bad guys… you should know the story is far more complex and nuanced than that…’

Since January 2023, more than 200 Palestinians have been killed in escalating settler and Israeli occupation force attacks, which have rarely made MSM headlines. As Nour Odeh explained, ‘it doesn’t always make the news on your screen but it is an everyday reality for Palestinians.’ Whereas Israelis are given names and faces, Palestinians are presented as mere numbers when MSM bother to report about them. 

Since 7 October, more than 5,500 people have been arrested across Gaza and the West Bank, and detained indefinitely without being charged, adding to the previous 5,000 Palestinians held by Israel in administrative detention. At least 100 people have been killed by the Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank. This has garnered very little coverage in the West. As Palestinian PLO politician, Hanan Ashrawi replied in exasperation during a BBC interview: ‘because something happened to Israel for the first time in history, everybody’s up in arms and its victims have to condemn themselves. Israel has been doing this to us for decades … no one brings Israeli spokespeople to say, do you condemn this? Isn’t this brutal? Isn’t this genocide…?’ As Jewish Australian-German independent journalist and author of The Palestine Laboratory, Antony Loewenstein pointed out, there is far less international outrage when Palestinians are killed on a daily basis by Israeli occupation forces.

Cold and callous

The continued dehumanisation of Palestinians is evident in the absolute lack of empathy shown by MSM newscasters towards Palestinian deaths. During an interview on Newsnight, the Palestinian ambassador (Dr Husam Zomlot) revealed that seven members of his extended family, including children, had been killed by Israeli airstrikes. Without missing a beat, presenter Kirsty Wark asked, ‘can I just be clear though, you cannot condone the killings of civilians in Israel?’ The cold and callous response gives an insight as to how the West views Palestinian lives: unimportant and expendable. 

Dr Zomlot challenged Lewis Jones on the BBC, exposing the blatant hypocrisy: ‘how many times have you interviewed Israeli officials, Lewis? Hundreds of times … How many times has Israel condemned war crimes live in front of your own cameras? Do you start by asking them to condemn themselves?’ Palestinian-American journalist and writer, Mariam Barghouti also challenged a visibly flustered Mark Austin when he chastised her about tweeting, ‘Gaza just broke out of prison’, and for downplaying the number of Palestinians who had been killed by Israel from thousands to ‘dozens’. During the end of the interview, Sky News even muted her mic. Free speech in the West is selective, awarded only to those who fit their version of events.

The BBC made a feeble apology, admitting that the report: ‘several demonstrations across Britain, during which people voiced their backing for Hamas’, was poorly phrased and a misleading description of the demos. Sky News also apologised for misrepresenting Dr Zomlot’s views, when host Kay Burley quoted him as saying, ‘Israel had it coming’, when he had said no such thing in his interview. A British-Egyptian doctor was asked by presenter, Sophie Law on BBC Radio Oxford whether he held Hamas responsible for the deaths in Gaza. With the consistent misrepresentation, it is clear that these are sinister attempts to undermine any sympathy garnered for the long suffering of Palestinians and to cover up Israel’s ongoing oppression. 

In a telling statement, former Israeli PM, Yair Lapid said, ‘if the international media is objective, it serves Hamas. If it just shows both sides, it serves Hamas.’ Western mainstream media are functioning to serve the purposes of Israel and the West at the expense of the Palestinian people, their freedom and the truth. 

Language of misrepresentation

Yara Eid, Palestinian journalist and human-rights advocate, called out Sky News for their misleading language, referring to Israelis as having been ‘killed’ and Palestinians as having ‘died’: ‘… language is really important … as a journalist, you have the moral responsibility to report on what is happening. Palestinians don’t just die, they get killed.’

Other examples of misleading language include referring to the ‘Israel-Hamas war.’ Receiving billions in military aid from the US, Israel has one of the largest armies in the world with sophisticated surveillance technology and weaponry, and is the only country in the Middle East to have nuclear weapons. The Palestinians have no army or international support. Although Hamas’s Qassam rockets have the potential to cause damage, casualties and death, they are essentially ‘home-made’ (made from combination of sugar, TNT and common fertilizers), with the majority intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome. This is reflected in the massively disproportionate death toll for Palestinians. The MSM’s negligence to report these distinctions is dishonest and dangerous.

The media bias was highlighted by a study on the New York Times, compiled by researcher, Holly Jackson at the University of California, Berkley. Based on 991 articles between 7/10/23 and 18/10/23. It found that Israeli deaths were mentioned more often than Palestinians deaths. Furthermore, the NY Times coverage of Israeli deaths increased as more Palestinians were killed. The research also showed a marked difference in the language used, for example ‘massacre’ was only mentioned once in reference to Palestinians compared to 53 times for Israelis. 

NBC news came under fire after tweeting, ‘Israel cut off food, fuel, water and electricity to Gaza. Is that a war crime? While blockades are legal, the nation imposing them must take into consideration the effect on the civilian population, an expert says. “It is an acceptable short-term tactic”,’ but ‘“clearly it cannot be of a long duration.”’ Yet, any form of collective punishment is illegal by international law.

When British-Palestinian and Liberal Democratic MP, Layla Moran revealed on the Good Morning Britain show that her extended family had been sheltering in the 1600-year-old church in Gaza that was bombed by Israel, the presenter, Richard Madeley, proceeded to ask whether ‘there was any word on the street’ prior to the Hamas attack. He was strongly condemned and later apologised.

MSNBC quietly sidelined three Muslim anchors, including the renowned Mehdi Hasan, and the BBC took six reporters in the Middle East off air over alleged pro-Palestine activities on social media. Noura Erakat, a Palestinian-American human-rights lawyer appeared live on CBS and ABC, but her interviews were not shown online, as she had pushed back against the Israeli narrative. She explained, ‘they want us on to cry about our dead but not to provide context or discuss responsibility.’

In contrast, pro-Israeli spokespeople are not only given abundant opportunities, but are rarely challenged. Despite Israeli officials releasing numerous problematic statements steeped in genocidal language, these have not made the headlines. Netanyahu, in a now deleted tweet, wrote: ‘this is a struggle between the children of light and the children of darkness, between humanity and the law of the jungle.’ One can only imagine the media response if this had been a tweet by Putin. During a Sky News interview, former Israeli ambassador to the UN (Dan Gillerman) shockingly described Palestinians as ‘inhuman animals’, which was unchallenged by anchor, Mark Austin. 

In fact, MSM often come across as Israeli government and Israeli occupation forces spokespeople. After the horrific bombing of Al-Ahli Arab hospital that killed at least 500 Palestinians, there was much confusion as to who was responsible. An Israeli government official initially took credit, then deleted the tweet before blaming the Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ) group. MSM confidently reported that the IDF said they did not bomb the hospital as if that was undeniable proof, never reporting about the deleted tweets. MSM also reported Biden’s casual statement that it was most likely the ‘other team’, with no critique, despite there being no evidence to substantiate this claim. The Israeli occupation forces insisted that they do not target hospitals: a lie as it has a long history of targeting hospitals, a point never discussed by MSM. Articles repeatedly described it as a ‘Hamas-run hospital’, in a further attempt to dehumanise Palestinians and manipulate readers. 

Omitting the facts 

Nevertheless, in some honest reporting, several journalists described the severity of the explosion and the damage caused as not usually seen with the rockets used by Islamic militants. Channel 4 provided strong evidence that the blast was most likely caused by Israel after independent researchers studied doppler signals. Channel 4 also debunked audio clips released by Israel, claimed to be from a conversation between two militants discussing how a rocket had backfired. In addition, Israel deleted two doctored videos with timestamps that did not match.

The Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem, Hosam Naoum, described how the Israelis had warned the hospital three consecutive days prior to the blast that they would bomb the hospital and demanded they evacuate. Israel had also shelled the hospital a few days before as a ‘warning’. None of these details were ever reported in a cohesive manner, leaving the viewers confused. Journalist, Antony Loewenstein explained in an Al-Jazeera interview, ‘we have to treat any IDF denial with deep scepticism because anyone who knows the history will agree with that.’

Sara El-Yafi (a Lebanese public policy consultant, political activist and founder of Politikette) made a comprehensive analysis in a now viral video. Between 2001-2023, Hamas and PIJ were responsible for firing approximately 36,000 mortar shells and Qassam rockets into Israel, which killed a total of 69 people. The iron dome became functional in 2011. Yafi concludes that, given the data, it is ‘remarkably foolish’ and ‘outrageously absurd’ to propose that Hamas/PIJ have the capability to blow up a building and kill 500 people with a single rocket. Yafi also compared videos of a Qassam rocket going off with the hospital explosion: it is evident the impact of the rockets is far less powerful and would not have caused such extensive damage. 

Double standards  

MSM rarely give a platform to anti-Zionist Jews or Israelis critical of their own government. There has also been a distinct lack of media coverage of the interviews given by freed Israeli hostages. An Israeli woman whose house was invaded by two Hamas fighters also described how they had reassured her that they would not harm her or her children as they are Muslims. Another Israeli captive who managed to escape testified that many hostages were killed in crossfire with Israeli troops.

Sky News Australia and the BBC abruptly cut off transmission of the freed hostage, Mrs Lifshitz giving an interview, translated into English by her daughter. She was asked about why she shook hands with a Hamas militant on her release. Mrs Lifshitz reported that Hamas had been very gentle and treated them well. She described how Hamas had assured them they wouldn’t hurt them as they are Muslims. She also explained that they were well provided for including food and medicine. Despite this extraordinary testimony, MSM headlines read: ‘I went through hell.’ Many Israelis are angry at the massive security breach and questions are being asked as to how Hamas defied their robust defence system, and why the Israeli army took several hours to respond. Again, this has barely been covered by MSM.

The stark contrast in the reporting of the Ukraine-Russia war exposes the ugly racism at the core of MSM. Journalists openly lamented at how could this possibly be happening to a ‘civilised’ population who looked like them? Contrastingly, since 7 October, Islamophobia has skyrocketed, driven by hateful political and media rhetoric. Anti-Semitism has also soared, which occurs every time Israel unleashes another onslaught on Palestinians. In a shocking hate crime, Wadea Al-Fayoume, a six-year-old Palestinian-American boy, was viciously stabbed to death by Joseph Czuba in Illinois. The landlord had also tried to choke Wadea’s mother and stabbed her, yelling: ‘you Muslims must die!’ Wadea’s family later recalled that Joseph used to play with Wadea and they were friends. The police linked the crime to the ongoing ‘Israel-Hamas’ war. Irresponsible reporting and media propaganda that dehumanises Arabs, Muslims and people of colour will only lead to more hate crime.


Meta has also been busy trying to limit pro-Palestine content. They were forced to apologise after inserting the word ‘terrorist’ into the profile bios of some Palestinian Instagram users, which they reported to be a bug in auto-translation from Arabic to English. Popular accounts are being taken down or threatened with bans. Graphic images are being censored. Many have reported experiencing a shadow ban, which is when social-media users are blocked without their knowledge, by making their posts and comments no longer visible to others. This censorship is occurring on the backdrop of an attempt to silence anyone who speaks up about Palestinian human rights. 

The Telegraph recently published a story headlined: ‘Colleagues left “appalled” by top doctor’s comments on Israeli response to Hamas attacks’, regarding paediatrician, Dr Kingdon’s statement to the Royal College of Paediatrics members. The article was poorly written and misleading, despite Dr Kingdon clearly stating that one of the roles the College in the UK and around the world can play is ‘to advocate, ceaselessly and without partisan attachment, for the universal imperative power of protecting children.’ Chelsea and West Minister Hospital also removed a display of artwork by children in Gaza after pressure from pro-Israel group.  

Al-Jazeera’s Gaza Bureau chief, Wael Al Dahdouh lost his wife and two children in an Israeli airstrike. They were sheltering in Al Nuseirat refugee camp. Israeli journalist, Zvi Yehezkeli reported that this was a deliberate and targeted attack. The attack came days after US Secretary of State, Tony Blinken, asked the Qatari prime minister to turn down the volume on Al-Jazeera’s coverage. Another Palestinian journalist, Dua’ Sharf was killed when her house was struck by Israeli missiles. So far, 23 journalists have been killed by Israel since 7 October. Deliberate targeting of journalists is a war crime, but nothing new for Israel or the US, who also targeted Al-Jazeera journalists during the Iraq War. In May 2022, renowned Palestinian-American journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh was shot in the head by Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank, despite clearly wearing a press vest. Israel initially denied it, blaming Islamic militants, before quietly admitting it several months later. To date, no one has been charged for her unlawful death. Her state-funeral procession was attacked by Israeli occupation forces. 

We will not be silenced 

Governments across the US, UK and Europe are implementing more draconian measures. France banned pro-Palestine protests. The police brutally assaulted peaceful protestors in Berlin and New York. UK home secretary, Suella Braverman declared that waving a Palestine flag ‘may not be legitimate’.  Despite this, thousands of people have been peacefully protesting across the world in an effort to make their voices heard.

In the midst of all the media bias, an unlikely ‘hero’ has emerged: Piers Morgan. Although Piers is insufferable as ever, regularly interrupting his guests, he has consistently given pro-Palestinian voices a platform on his show, Piers Morgan Uncensored. This has no doubt bolstered his show’s ratings. His interview with Egyptian-American cardiothoracic surgeon turned comedian, Bassem Youssef became the show’s most popular video, garnering 19 million views in one week. Marc Lamont Hill, who was fired from CNN, is making waves at Al-Jazeera. He was praised for his interview with former Israeli deputy foreign minister (Danny Ayalon), effectively demonstrating how Ayalon condones collective punishment in Gaza.

The battle for the information war is being won by Palestinian journalists in Gaza who are risking their lives to show us what is happening in real time, whilst witnessing unspeakable horrors and grieving for loved ones they have lost. Their bravery, courage, resilience and humanity cannot be overstated. It has challenged the dehumanising narrative about Palestinians that has gone on for far too long and exposed the ugly truth of MSM, which is failing in its journalistic integrity. With an abundance of undeniable evidence and the millions of witnesses on social media, the role of MSM in the genocide of Gaza in 2023 will never be forgotten.

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