Breaches of professional standards by Western media and collusion against Gaza

Doaa Abdel-Maqsoud , Tuesday 28 Nov 2023

Although the media should ideally present global events as they are and abide by professional standards in covering them, today's scrutiny of the media coverage regarding the ethnic cleansing and genocide in the Gaza Strip reveals significant breaches of these standards.

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Several prominent media outlets have been accused of violating these standards. Over 750 journalists from various organizations, including The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and The Guardian, signed a letter condemning the killing of journalists by Israel in Gaza.

They urged the media to accurately depict the Israeli-Palestinian situation using terms like "apartheid" and "genocide" to convey the severity of the atrocities committed against Palestinians in Gaza. They emphasized that the media blockade in Gaza poses a serious threat to news credibility due to the occupation’s deliberate targeting of journalists.

This joint statement by journalists stands as compelling evidence of the media manipulation of material concerning the events in Gaza and the whole occupied Palestinian territories. This implicates the media as a complicit actor in the ongoing operations in Gaza today.

However, media coverage of the Palestinian cause has long been marred by numerous shortcomings, making it an essential accomplice in the past actions of the Zionist entity.

In 1948 Nakba, for instance, media portrayal lacked immediacy and accuracy in displaying the full extent of the Palestinian suffering under settler gangs’ massacres. In the past, media lacked the rapid technologies needed to accurately depict the tragedies experienced by Palestinians, but today's massive technological advancement makes any excuse for substandard coverage invalid.

Now media failure to adhere to professional standards constitutes a moral transgression, for which those involved will be held accountable. Here, we highlight instances of professional breaches in the coverage of the Zionist aggression against the Gaza Strip in 2021, linking them with the approach of reporting the ongoing genocide of Palestinians in Gaza.

The Guardian’s adherence to the Zionist narrative 
 

Both political discourse and media exhibited a consistent tone, exemplified by the Zionist aggression against Gaza in 2021. Those steering this discourse often attributed responsibility for the occupation’s attacks on civilians in Gaza to the Palestinian resistance, despite the heightened hostility appearing throughout the year in the forced displacements of Palestinians from Jerusalem neighborhoods and provocative incursions into the revered Al-Aqsa Mosque.

This narrative found agreement in international newspapers as well. For instance, The Guardian newspaper consistently placed responsibility on the Palestinian resistance, whether in the 2021 or 2023 aggressions.

This was evident despite the staggering casualty toll, surpassing 15,000 Palestinian martyrs in Gaza in the current situation.

In one of its articles, the newspaper explicitly accused the resistance of using Palestinian civilians as human shields, echoing the narrative often propagated by the Zionist perspective.

Regrettably, the coverage failed to acknowledge significant events like the open letter submitted by over 500 Democratic staffers and former members of US President Biden’s election campaign team on 24 May 2021. This letter outlined five essential demands, urging President Biden to unequivocally condemn the occupation.

These demands included ending the forced displacement of Palestinians from Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, halting settlement activities in the West Bank, preventing the misuse of American aid to imprison and mistreat Palestinian children, preventing the destruction and seizure of their homes, and halting the annexation of Palestinian lands.

Similarly, there was little attention to the remarks made by former US Vice President Mike Pence, who pointedly held the Netanyahu government, known for its extreme right-wing stance, accountable as a major reason for the continual escalation of the conflict.

The issue's crux does not solely stem from the "Deluge of Al-Aqsa," the expression preferred by Netanyahu, his security leaders, media supporters, and various world leaders, who exploited the events of 7 October to justify the indiscriminate and brutal occupation campaign against Palestinians.

Rather, it is the culminating events spanning over a century that led to the current state of oppression and bloodshed in Palestine, favoring the demographic transformation desired by the Zionist entity. Despite successive waves of Jewish displacement to Palestine, the entity's plans for demographic transformation have not fully succeeded.


Fox News and claimed self-defense
 

Another example of the victim narrative, effectively wielded by the Zionists, is evident in the report by Fox News, a staunch supporter of the misleading Zionist narrative. It depicted the occupation as a beleaguered state existing amidst adversaries aiming for its eradication, framing the actions taken as self-defense. It is disconcerting to witness this same media formulation being employed in the ongoing Gaza genocide operations.

The American network consistently portrayed the Zionist entity as a peaceful state engaged in self-defense, mirroring the narrative prevalent in local media in Israel. These outlets adopted the slogan "We defend our homeland" across their materials, openly justifying the violent practices in Gaza and gearing up for harsher actions against the Palestinians.

The New York Times between retaliation and self-defense


The New York Times also exhibited unmistakable bias in its coverage favoring Israel. In 2021, it framed the occupation actions as "retaliation" against missiles from the resistance, labeling its members as "militants." This subtle choice of language aimed to manipulate global public opinion, attempting to diminish the perception of the resistance actions as a legitimate struggle for freedom, an entitlement safeguarded by international law.

The same tone was echoed in the current brutal aggression on Gaza. The newspaper maintained a consistent stance, describing the resistance as "terrorists," rationalizing occupiers' actions as "defensive measures for security." Remarkably, despite the passage of years, the newspaper’s approach remains unchanged, reflecting consistent meanings and intentions conveyed through its reporting.


New York Post and manipulation of terminology
 

In 2021, the news outlet posted a tweet falsely claiming the killing of 20 Zionists by resistance fighters, which sparked criticism and led to the tweet’s deletion due to its blatant falsehood. Similarly to this deception and information manipulation pattern, this incident bears a striking resemblance to the events of 7 October.

In the recent Gaza aggression, the newspaper continues its deliberate description of resistance as terrorism. It deliberately crafted editorial content to perpetuate this narrative, exemplified by instances like inviting a Hollywood actress who served in the Zionist army to present a video clip depicting what both the newspaper and the actress described as bloody violations committed by the resistance. These materials were based on misinformation and content provided by Israel to the media.


Facebook and the usual accidental error
 

In 2021, Facebook displayed biased behavior when a page named "Jerusalem Prayer Team" surfaced, forcibly adding millions of users without their consent. This page was dedicated to soliciting donations for the Zionist entity. Following severe criticism, the Facebook company acknowledged the violation of its rules and announced the deletion of the page. Adding users without their consent indicated the platform’s involvement in the issue. Moreover, in the same year, Instagram, a platform owned by Facebook, also deleted images of Al-Aqsa and suppressed hashtags in both Arabic and English, displaying clear bias against the Palestinians.

In the current war on Gaza, around 800,000 posts supporting the Palestinian cause were deleted, alongside deliberate suppression of news pages advocating for Palestinians or reporting events truthfully. Users attempting to access this content, in case it was not deleted, had to search extensively. The company justified these actions by citing an "accidental error.” Why does the Western media intentionally distort the truth regarding the historic land of Palestine?

This fact was revealed by the Daily Star newspaper in May 2021 in a report titled “The problem with mainstream Western media’s coverage of Palestine." The report divulged the partiality of Western media coverage in favor of Zionists, as the writer observed a distortion of the Palestinians' suffering, with any reaction from their side being always called an "escalation of violence." The same pattern occurs today in the coverage of the current incidents in Gaza!

This aligns with the statements of Sarah Helm, a former correspondent of The Independent. Helm emphasized the distinct pressure she faced when reporting on events in Palestine and Israel due to the occupation's intense media and political pressure at all levels, especially from the pro-occupation lobby in London. Those who covered the issue felt afraid of being accused of anti-Semitism.

The same thing is still happening today with any free voice in the world who criticizes the Zionist massacres against the Palestinians in Gaza and the entire occupied territories. Furthermore, David Cronin, a former writer for the British newspaper The Guardian, stated he was advised by one of the editors to stay away from covering the Palestinian issue. Cronin said the reason for neglecting the historical context of this issue in the Western media is fear of the flood of preconceived accusations against those who engage in it.

This fear resulted in a lack of understanding among world readers about the reality inside Palestine, which has historically been subject to one-sided aggression. These readers do not realize that 7 out of 10 people in Gaza have been registered as refugees since 1948 after the expulsion of Palestinian families from their homes because of the armed Zionist gangs coming from Europe. 

The success of occupation leaders to circulate the nation that this issue is a religious one and that their objective is to defend the Jewish presence not only in Palestine but worldwide has greatly contributed to the deliberate obfuscation of all matters pertaining to Palestinian rights. They prepared a list of accusations for those who deviate from this position, the most significant among which is the charge of “anti-Semitism." They also focus on the famous incident of the Nazi Holocaust, serving as a tool to portray themselves as victims of global persecution. 

In this regard, I recollect the words of Golda Meir, the former Israeli prime minister, who played the victim role, saying: "We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children, but we cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children." This is an intentional distortion of facts and acting as the vulnerable who pursues peace; it is a usual language that they mastered several decades ago even before the establishment of what they call their state. She herself said: "Every morning I wish to wake up and not find a single Palestinian child alive," contradicting her previous statement. Therefore, no wonder to see the current massacres against civilians, especially children, in Gaza; it is a deeply entrenched ideology in the minds of the leaders of such an occupying entity.


Manipulation of minds, falsifying history through media
 

Two years later, a more misleading media attack occurred. I was astounded to read an article on the Yedioth Ahronoth website stating that Yaron Dekel, the Jewish Agency's regional director in Canada, tried to reverse facts that are very clear to all people and to show the situation in Gaza as a direct cause of Jews persecution in Canada. Dekel asserted that Jews conceal their religious identity and fear to show their support to their motherland, attributing blame to the Palestinians and their resistance, describing whoever rejects their Zionist massacres as "anti-Semitic," considering them as a threat to the security of Jews in Canada.

When the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) refused to describe the resistance as terrorism, Dekel described this as bias, using indirect threatening statements when he hinted that the CBC is funded by taxpayers. Such veiled threat is one of the pressure tools they always use to force the media to stand by their side. Despite his claim that the Jews' lives are in danger, at the end of his article he spoke about raising more than $72 million to support the reconstruction of settlements around the Gaza border.

Here, I want to highlight the media's malicious trick, observed in many articles, the idea of "postponement." It means starting the story with the information that serves Israel, as Dekel did, and postponing the other information, despite its importance from the perspective of those who support the Palestinian rights or those who desire to know the truth, till the end of the article.

Also when CNN covered the news about the release of the Zionist captive Yocheved Lifshitz, it deliberately started the article with the negative part and postponed to the end the woman’s praise of the good treatment she received during her detention.

Another notorious incident occurred when the CNN correspondent in Palestine received directions over the phone to look around as if she was in danger to delude viewers that the resistance was targeting media people: “Look around as if you’re in danger!"

Moreover, in the early hours of the aggression on Gaza, Los Angeles Times newspaper published undocumented news about the raping of women and beheading of children by the Palestinians, then deleting them after achieving the desired echo. Fully realizing that the influence of the published news never disappears even after deleting them, the American newspaper aimed to form the collective awareness of citizens inside and outside the USA.

This same malicious trick was previously used against the Jews themselves by the Nazi Minister Joseph Goebbels, based on spreading negative images and ideas about Jews in magazines, movies, cartoons, and other media; facilitating Germans' access to radios to listen to these ideas; canceling some textbooks for teaching students to obey the Nazi party and hate Jews; burning books and harassing Jewish authors; using movies to show false support for Nazism through presenting images of smiling children and cheering crowds, like the 1935 movie “Triumph of the Will.”

Reviewing Western and Zionist media, this pattern has been repeated over the years against the Palestinians. They produced films recounting Golda Meir's biography during the October 1973 war, deliberately depicting her leadership as peaceful, being compelled to engage in war by Egyptian actions. They used certain filmmaking techniques to shape perception alongside other potentially misleading images of a woman who authorized the bombing of the Bahr Al-Baqar School in Egypt’s Sharqiya Governorate. Although the school was filled with children, they claimed weapons depots for the army were present within.

Thus, media possesses great potential for harm should it be leveraged to benefit certain parties in conflict. Beyond disregarding facts, such portrayals grant a license to ongoing violations of international law, rendering the world a jungle where respect for humanity and life is lost. It has the ability to misdirect public opinion worldwide, distorting the true struggles of people and their free will.

*The writer is a member of the Media Unit at Al-Azhar Observatory for Combating Extremism (AOCE).

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