When the leaders of major Western countries like the US and the UK among others facilitate and encourage daily aggression by Israel against the Palestinians in their occupied land, it is no surprise to hear the same sort of rhetoric when the Palestinian resistance tries to reclaim land usurped by the occupier.
When it comes to rights and legitimate interests, international law is treated as background noise. These same leaders ignore the cries of innocent Palestinians as they see their human rights stripped from them by security forces on the one hand and armed and racist settlers on the other.
Palestinian homes are demolished, Palestinian families are driven out of their houses, and the farms of poor Palestinian farmers are burned and their land confiscated to build settlements for immigrants coming from the US, Europe, or Russia.
It is no wonder that many Western politicians forcefully pledge their support to Israel and send weapons to eliminate the Palestinian threat. Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant regards them as “human animals,” and it appears as if the West condones the racist views of Israeli militants.
The West and almost all the rest of the world accepts the new law of the land that proclaims Israel to be an exclusively Jewish state, despite the simple fact that religious states are discriminatory and racist by their very nature. The most recent example of a religious state was the one set up by the Islamic State (IS) group, and the atrocities it committed are still fresh in the minds of many.
The traditional Western position that emboldens Israel was always expected to lead to issues. Yet, the right of the occupied to resist occupation by any means necessary is a simple principle regardless of the Western justification of its bias in supporting the oppressor. Even if the world ignores that right, it does not negate it. This is the same world that succumbed to US and British blackmailing on behalf of Israel in 1991in order to cancel the 1975 UN General Assembly Resolution classifying Zionism as a racist movement.
The politics are understood, even if they are not accepted. But another problem comes with the media and especially the Western media that claims to be free and fair. That media is supposed to scrutinise politics and politicians, not to be their mouthpieces propagating their lies and fabrications. Unfortunately, the propagandist message of the Western media, and that of those who copy it elsewhere in the world, has now crossed a new line.
This could also be observed in the early coverage of the war in Ukraine. Western correspondents appeared on US, British, and other TV screens exposing their racism and feeding their audience a “fascist” rhetoric. They mocked others who had been forced to become refugees as a result of wars carried out or supported by the West, such as the Iraqis or Syrians. They fully adopted the positions of Ukrainian officials even when the images on the ground contradicted them.
They even outdid the politicians in denying the facts, considering this to be a weapon of mobilisation against Russia. While it is true that the first victim of war is truth, what the Western media presented in this case went beyond any simple case of bias. Instead, it was just blunt propaganda.
Trust takes years to build, but it can collapse in a moment. Once trust is lost, it might not be possible to rebuild it. Today, it is plausible to say that trust in the Western media as a credible source of information and analysis is rapidly deteriorating and might even have been lost for many around the world. Its coverage of the recent developments in Palestine and Israel is a stark example of practices that have deprived it of any remaining credibility.
Palestinian resistance to occupation is not terrorism, and those foreign settlers who attack Palestinians daily are not made up of a majority of “innocent civilians.” It is important to emphasise that it is not only Hamas that is resisting the occupation forces, but all the Palestinian factions. Yet, the Western media has adopted the Israeli narrative that prefers to see a “religious enemy,” even if ironically this is one that is like its own “religious state.”
The Western media has been the tool of choice to misinform the world that “terrorists are attacking a peaceful Israel” and then to use the term war as if the Palestinian resistance was the army of a separate state fighting Israel.
The narrative being put forward in the Western media is one that finds a justification for the genocide being carried out by the Israeli military in an area of the Gaza Strip, killing hundreds and displacing thousands. Not only that, but the Western media has even consented to the Israeli use of collective punishment that has seen millions of women, children, and old people being deprived of basic human needs like food and water.
Politicians can get their way by telling half-truths or even falsifying the facts in an opportunistic way, justifying this as a way of protecting the “national interest.” But the media should be a means to expose such tactics, not a way to outdo them in a more biased and misinforming way.
The Western media, and those who follow it, is now mostly no more than a propaganda tool for oppressors and their supporters. It would be as well if it now thought twice before preaching to others about the benefits of free speech, objectivity, honesty and fairness.
* The writer is a London-based seasoned journalist.
* A version of this article appears in print in the 19 October, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly