By: Asif Ullah Khan
“ISRAEL under renewed Hamas attack”, says BBC while CNN headline is more dramatic “Rockets rain on southern Israel”. The front page of USA Today reads “Israel: rocket fired every ten minutes” and “How Hamas reached deeper into Israel”. The New York Times ran the headline “Israel vs Gaza: for now, it’s rockets vs interceptors”.
If this was not enough, doyen of broadcast journalism ABC News’ Diane Sawyer went overboard to paint Israel as the “victim”. She in her news programme says “We take you overseas now to rockets raining down on Israel today as Israel tried to shoot them out of the sky. Then she shows video footage of a Palestinian family gathering belongings in the smoking debris of a missile-hit home in Gaza. But Sawyer identifies it as “an Israeli family trying to salvage what they can.”
Sawyer then describes an image of a Palestinian woman surrounded by destroyed homes as “one woman standing speechless among the ruins,” with the implication that she is Israeli.
We must bear in mind that the above mentioned cases come not from right-wing Fox News but the mainstream news organisations which are not only known for their accuracy but also their balanced coverage, meaning showing both sides of the picture, in this case — the conflict.
The irony is that BBC, the epitome of fair and balanced journalism, has become a propaganda tool for Israel. Writing in The Guardian, Owen Jones says the macabre truth is that Israeli life is deemed by the western media to be worth more than a Palestinian life – this is the hierarchy of death at work.
Jones further says: But the media coverage hardly reflects the reality: a military superpower armed with F-15 fighter jets, AH-64 Apache helicopters, Delilah missiles, IAI Heron-1 drones and Jericho II missiles (and nuclear bombs, for that matter), versus what David Cameron describes as a “prison camp” firing almost entirely ineffective missiles. Twenty-seven Palestinians are reported to have died in Gaza – and, mercifully, no Israelis have been killed by Hamas rockets – and yet the BBC opts for the Orwellian “Israel under renewed Hamas attack”.
Jones goes on: And so it goes for the events surrounding the abduction and vile murder of three Israeli teenagers. What was not widely reported by the western media was that – in the raids that followed their disappearance – six Palestinians, including a child, were killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank. As Amnesty International put it, these were “blatant violations of international humanitarian and human rights law”.
Such concerted campaign against the Palestinians cannot be termed as an editorial oversight. As they say there is method in the madness. Israeli propagandists infiltrated into major news organisations have very sinisterly changed the narrative. Israel has become the “victim”. The Goliath of the Middle East armed with world’s most modern war machine has become David, defending itself against onslaught of rockets fired by Hamas.
The entire Western media is in sync as far as the narrative of the conflict is concerned. Israeli atrocities, its illegal expansion of settlements and denial of basic human rights to Palestinians do not find place in news headlines rather a new term has been introduced Hamas-run, Hamas-run hospital etc.
People are surprised how a journalist of Diane Sawyer’s calibre could commit such a silly mistake.
Sawyer is not new to the Middle East. She has extensively covered this region and even interviewed Yasser Arafat.
All this is the result of a powerfully sophisticated public relations strategy orchestrated by Israel and partially paid for by US tax dollars, which has even made inroads into BBC.
According to Redress Information & Analysis, an independent website dedicated to exposing injustice, disinformation and bigotry, Raffi Berg, the editor of the BBC News website’s Middle East section, has been sending his staff emails advising them to write more favourably about Israel. In one email, sent during Israel’s eight-day assault on Gaza in November 2012, which killed nearly 200 Palestinians, Berg asked BBC colleagues to word their stories in a way which does not blame or “put undue emphasis” on Israel for starting the prolonged attacks. Instead, he encouraged journalists to promote the Israeli government line that the “offensive” was “aimed at ending rocket fire from Gaza”.
The pro-Israeli media has not only distorted the reality but also changed the entire narrative of illegal occupation of the Palestinian land. The Israeli viewpoint is presented in such a way that it is divorced from the history of the conflict. Like the present situation, the main story is rockets fired by Hamas but the context and background of what Israel has done in Gaza is completely absent from the narrative and this is done with such finesse and subtlety that the aggressor and oppressor becomes the victim and real victims are portrayed as aggressors or attackers. Pictures of Palestinian children throwing stones at tanks are prominently shown to justify every killing by Israeli soldiers and bombing raids by F-16s. Words like Israeli war crimes, massacres, assaults, invasion, raids and offensives are not used while reporting Israeli aggression and any reference to previous Israeli killings or attacks is missing.
All Israeli bombings are referred to as a defensive measures or retaliation which can’t be any farther from the reality as it is the Palestinians who are resisting and taking defensive measures against the Israel aggression. No matter how many innocent civilians, including children, are killed, no matter how many homes are destroyed, the western media narrative remains pro-Israel, echoing the policies of their governments. One TV anchor has rightly called US journalists as stenographers for the US government.
Footnote: This opinion article has been displayed in an online newspaper, The Brunei Times, in Bandar Seri Begawan, Negara Brunei Darussalam, on Monday, 14 July 2014. Original and full article is able to be searched directly to website at: http://www.bt.com.bn/opinion/2014/07/14/western-media-and-art-distorting-narrative [accessed in Vijaya Kusuma, Cipadung, Bandung, West Java, Indonesia: 14 August 2014].
Asif Ullah Khan is a journalist of The Brunei Times in Bandar seri Begawan, Negara Brunei Darussalam.