Western Media Slammed for Coverage of Deadly IDF Attacks on Gaza

A U.S. State Department spokesperson also faced criticism for refusing to condemn the reported killing of Palestinian children.

By Jessica Corbett
Common Dreams

Amid reporting that Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip killed at least 20 Palestinians, including nine children, rights activists and journalists on Monday called out some members of the media for covering the latest developments with language that misrepresents the power dynamics of the region.

After Israeli forces injured hundreds of Palestinians with rubber bullets, stun grenades, and tear gas at the Al-Aqsa Mosque — and refused to stand down — Hamas fired rockets at Jerusalem. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) responded with the deadly airstrikes, claiming to strike “Hamas terror targets.”

As Jack Mirkinson of Discourse Blog and many other critics pointed out, outlets including the Associated PressBBCThe New York TimesReuters, and The Washington Post used “clash” or “clashes” to describe the attack on the mosque, which is a holy site for Muslims and Jews. As Mirkinson wrote Monday:

“This is not a ‘clash’ between two equal sides. This is a straightforward attack by Israel on Palestinians. For days, the Israeli government has been systematically assaulting Palestinians worshipping at one of the holiest sites in Islam, during Ramadan, all while enforcing a move to ethnically cleanse a Jerusalem neighborhood of its Palestinian residents. Israeli forces have fired rubber bullets and stun grenades, injuring hundreds of people. The deputy mayor of Jerusalem has been filmed lamenting that Palestinian activists weren’t shot in the head.

Israel is one of the most militarily advanced countries in the world, thanks to the United States. It is the government in charge. It is the occupying power. It is the one taking active steps to displace Palestinians, to attack worshipers at a mosque. The asymmetry at play is beyond overwhelming.”

Some reports “are completely bewildering,” he wrote, while others “are clearly so nervous about veering from the script that even when they start strong, they descend into near-gibberish.”

Mirkinson was far from alone. In a statement Monday night, Linda Sarsour, executive director and co-founder of MPower Change, the largest Muslim-led digital advocacy organization in the United States, said, “These are not ‘clashes.'”

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“They are attacks,” Sarsour continued. “They are violent assaults by an occupying force. They are acts of ethnic cleansing, carried out by Israeli forces, on Palestinians, for worshipping at the Al-Aqsa Mosque during the holy month of Ramadan, or for merely existing in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.”

As Common Dreams has reported in recent days, attempts by Israeli settlers and security forces to drive Palestinians out of the Al-Bustan and Sheikh Jarrah neighborhoods in occupied East Jerusalem have sparked global condemnationincluding from some progressive U.S. lawmakers.

“What we’re seeing aren’t ‘clashes,'” Sarsour emphasized. “What we’re seeing is the oppression of an apartheid state, against people engaged in peaceful worship during the holiest nights of the year for Muslims around the world.”

“The Palestinians are a resilient people,” she added. “They want freedom and liberation. They want to live with dignity. They want justice—all universal values, rights, and principles we all deserve. Let’s stop the whitewashing of their systemic, violent oppression.”

“Clashes” isn’t the only word choice that has “stoked controversy,” Alex MacDonald reported Monday for Middle East Eye. Others include “conflict,” “property dispute,” and the terms used when referring to structures at “the Old City complex which houses Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Dome of the Rock, and the Western Wall.”

Reporters, rights advocates, and progressive lawmakers also called out U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price for how he handled questions from journalists on Monday, including his refusal to explicitly condemn the IDF’s reported killing of Palestinian children in the airstrikes.

“Washington is increasingly twisting its tongue in knots trying to square what they say is their support for human rights with support for Israel as it commits war crimes and crimes against humanity,” tweeted Yousef Munayyer, a Palestinian-American writer and political analyst, with a video clip.

U.S. Rep Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), the first Palestinian-American woman elected to Congress, also weighed in, tagging Price’s official Twitter account:


Jeremy Scahill of The Intercept — which last month published a thorough examination of U.S. President Joe Biden’s record on foreign and military issues, including “what would become a career-spanning defense of Israeli militarism” —pointed out that Price’s responses were not surprising.

“The questions from reporters here are solid. And the answers from the State Department spokesperson are, unfortunately, not shocking,” Scahill said. “This is a bipartisan horror and Joe Biden has a very long history of defending Israel’s gratuitous violence and killings.”

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) took to Twitter Monday to address an issue Price was questioned about: the right to self-defense.

Meanwhile, some Israeli Jews took to the streets chanting “Yimach Shemam,” a Hebrew phrase that means “may their names be erased,” which was denounced as “sick,” “shocking,” and “revolting.”

“Hard to capture how deeply horrifying this video is. Thousands of Israeli Jews singing about revenge… dancing as a fire burns on the Temple Mount,” said Simone Zimmerman, director of B’Tselem USA and co-founder of IfNotNow. “This is genocidal animus towards Palestinians—emboldened and unfiltered.”

This article is from  Common Dreams.

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6 comments for “Western Media Slammed for Coverage of Deadly IDF Attacks on Gaza

  1. DW Bartoo
    May 12, 2021 at 09:14

    Reading the full transcript of the U$ Department of State press conference of May 10, 2021, with Ned Price as Department Spokesperson, is a most thoroughly interesting experience.

    Not only do some of the questions have zing, Price’s verbal contortions provide a most revealing insight into studied vacuity and privileged hubris.

    Recommended reading.

  2. Donald Duck
    May 12, 2021 at 04:38

    Killing Palestinian kids is what the IDF do for fun. In the big Palestinian demos in 2020 the IDF got its new toys in the shape of sniper rifles and used them to great effect. What fun. This has become so routine that it passes without comment. Oh, and yes, there was white phosphorus used against Palestinian civilians – See Norman Finkelstein – Gaza – in Operation Caste Lead. Another massacre. Some 1,400 Palestinians were killed during Operation Caste Lead, of whom up to four -fifths were civilians and 350 children. On the other side, total Israeli casualties amounted to 10 combatants (four killed by friendly fire) and three civilians.” Gaza – Norman Finkelstein. Just another day in Jerusalem.

  3. James Simpson
    May 12, 2021 at 03:08

    As a former Christian believer, I find it interesting that many Israeli Zionists still refer to the Old Testament as justification for their atrocities against Palestinian people. Israel’s moral claim to Palestine seems to lie primarily in the accounts in that collection of ancient books of a monotheistic deity demanding utter obedience from his followers and genocide of the polytheistic inhabitants of the land those followers are taking over. Even as a child, I had many questions for my parents about the morality of a god and a religion which authorised massive violence against unbelievers, none of which they could answer. Likewise the Zionists: their claim to Palestine is based on man-made texts justifying the destruction of whole peoples. The morality of much of the Old Testament is ‘might makes right’ and ‘our god is stronger than your god’. Perhaps Christians and followers of Judaism might reflect on the basis of their faith and how it inspires Zionists.

  4. robert e williamson jr
    May 11, 2021 at 16:17

    “Nothing new here, move along, nothing of note to see here, a few dead children so what. ” said the Anchor of the MSM!

    Biden has done nothing to end this behavior in Israel, instead by omission of any critical announcements he has encouraged the blood letting. And now low and behold after “Benny the Blade Notinmyhood” has failed to create a functioning coalition he has or will create yet another massacre to take the pressure off himself.

    I takes a lot of gall for anyone at this point to point out that children are being killed, especially after 70 years of the of the wanton slaughter of innocents by Israel and on all sides including the U.S. of A. in the Iraq & Afghanistan wars.

    Let the flaunting and flouting of the international court et al by the U.S.

    Thanks CN

    • robert e williamson jr
      May 13, 2021 at 11:36

      This is obviously once the moderator should have not posted one of my comments. I was more than just a little incoherent here.

      My apologies all round but the endless killing of innocents is getting to me.

      Special apologies to Jessica Corbett.

  5. Lois Gagnon
    May 11, 2021 at 12:51

    One psychotic government (the US) defending the psychosis of another (Israel). The world has had enough.

Comments are closed.