'Israel’s 9/11'? What about Palestine’s 24/7?

Namat Abulebada
Thursday 19 Oct 2023

Malcolm X once said: “If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”

Media, in all its shapes and forms, is a powerful tool. It has the power to shape opinions and perceptions, as well as elicit powerful emotions.

It does so by framing narratives in a certain manner and choosing specific wordings and images to portray a certain phenomenon. Therefore, the media ends up having a strong influence over our minds, how we think, and how we view the world.

We are always taught that we should not blindly believe everything we hear or see in the media, yet so many people succumb to the tactics employed by the media. In other words, they succumb to disinformation. News media outlets, even the most credible of them, are always working to serve certain political agendas.

As such, Western media is constantly working to serve the interests of the West. One such example is the Western media’s depiction of the most recent attack by Hamas on Israel.

If one closely examines the language used in the reports presented by the Western media, a tragic reality comes to light. The truth is sometimes expendable; it is sometimes altered to portray the version of the story that works best for the West.

“Unprovoked attack,” “murderous rampage,” and “terrorist attack” were all terms used by different Western news media outlets to describe the actions taken by Hamas.

These depictions are prejudiced, presenting to the world a fraction of a much bigger and more complex story.

For example, calling this attack “unprovoked” takes away the decades-long struggle of the Palestinian people.

This attack was not the first brush stroke on a blank canvas; it was not an isolated event. It is misleading and unjust to attempt to understand this event outside of its historical context.

Some people have gone as far as depicting the events as “Israel’s 9/11” (Roth, 2023). Such a depiction is dangerous, it should not be thrown around or taken lightly.
When the tragedy of 9/11 took place in the US in 2001, this elicited strong feelings of hatred towards Arabs.

Arabs, more than ever, became associated with terrorism, violence, and several other misguided stereotypes.

The aftermath of the attack resulted in the “justified” invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. Calling this attack “Israel’s 9/11” allows the West to vilify the Palestinians all while justifying Israel’s brutal reaction.

The genocide that Israel is currently committing in Gaza has become its “right to defend itself.” This description opens the door for hate crimes to spread. One example of this is the cold-blooded murder of a six-year-old Palestinian boy in Illinois who was stabbed to death by his landlord (Tareen, 2023). This hate crime was the result of being brainwashed by the false narratives that are being circulated by the media.

An important question that has been tossed aside by the media is: What about the Palestinians’ right to defend themselves?

The people of Palestine have endured unimaginable pain and suffering over the decades under Israeli occupation, yet no one has acknowledged their right to fight back or protect themselves.

According to reports, the number of bombs that Israel has so far dropped on Gaza is equivalent to a quarter of a nuclear bomb (Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor, 2023).

The deaths and destruction that this has caused are inconceivable. While Israel’s actions are in breach of the many instruments of international law, the West has, once again, mastered the art of looking the other way.

Despite the fact that there are internationally recognized laws of war, laws that regulate the conduct of war, Israel still chooses to follow its own path. It chooses the path which maximizes the death toll, the suffering, and the destruction.

Disinformation is like a plague. It spreads quickly, infecting many people with ignorance along the way. For example, many Western celebrities were ignorantly sharing a post on their social media accounts that says “pray for Israel” in bold, with a picture of Gaza being the background image.

Once they realized the truth of the matter, these celebrities attempted to rectify their mistake by taking down their posts.

This provides insight to how Western media is responsible for the brainwashing of the masses. These celebrities are all unaware of the reality of the situation. They were blindly reposting what is being shared on the news.

In other words, they were sharing what they thought to be credible news. Another example is the CNN footage that has been reportedly fabricated to include fake audio.

In the video, reporters are seen taking cover from what seems to be rockets being fired by Hamas. In the altered audio of the video, a man could be heard saying: “look round as if you’re in danger, try to look nice and scared” (Reuters, 2023). While the footage was debunked and labelled as fake by several news media outlets, it highlights how difficult it is to ascertain the validity of news and how easy it is for news to be distorted.

The media is like a double-edged sword. It has the power to put forth the truth for the whole world to see, but it also has the power to alter or conceal that truth. If what has been happening in Gaza should teach the world anything, it is that political agendas are sometimes more important than the truth.

Hamas’ attack on Israel offers a first-hand account of how the media can manipulate certain narratives to vilify the innocent. The Western media’s response has only worked to legitimize colonialism, apartheid, and genocide. It has taken away the voice of the oppressed while amplifying the voice of the oppressor.

*Namat Abulebada is a researcher at the BUC Centre for Global Affairs. She graduated with a Master of Arts in Middle East Studies from the American University in Cairo. Her research interests include International Relations, Conflict and Security Studies, Foreign Policy, and Comparative Politics.

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