Media Bias Enables Israel’s War on Palestine

The deadly Israeli wars on Gaza, including the slaying of children, are made possible by an endless stream of Western media misinformation and misrepresentation, writes Ramzy Baroud.

(Libertinus, Creative Commons)

By Ramzy Baroud
Common Dreams

While U.S. and Western mainstream and corporate media remain biased in favor of Israel, they often behave as if they are a third, neutral party. This is simply not the case.

Take The New York Times coverage of the latest Israeli war on Gaza as an example. Its article on Aug. 6, “Israel-Gaza Fighting Flares for a Second Day” is the typical mainstream Western reporting on Israel and Palestine, but with a distinct NYT flavor.

For the uninformed reader, the article succeeds in finding a balanced language between two equal sides. This misleading moral equivalence is one of the biggest intellectual blind spots for Western journalists. If they do not outwardly champion Israel’s discourse on “security” and “right to defend itself,” they create false parallels between Palestinians and Israelis, as if a military occupier and an occupied nation have comparable rights and responsibilities.

[Related: Killing Children in ‘Self Defense’]

Obviously, this logic does not apply to the Russia-Ukraine war. For NYT and all mainstream Western media, there is no question regarding who the good guys and the bad guys are in that bloody fight.

“Palestinian militants” and “terrorists” have always been the West’s bad guys.  Per the logic of their media coverage, Israel does not launch unprovoked wars on Palestinians, and is not an unrepentant military occupier, or a racist apartheid regime. This language can only be used by marginal “radical” and “leftist” media, never the mainstream.

The brief introduction of the NYT article spoke about the rising death toll, but did not initially mention that the 20 killed Palestinians include children, emphasizing, instead, that Israeli attacks have killed a “militant leader.”

When the six children killed by Israel are revealed in the second paragraph, the article immediately, and without starting a new sentence, clarifies that “Israel said some civilian deaths were the result of militants stashing weapons in residential areas” and that others were killed by “misfired” Palestinian rockets.

On Aug. 16, the Israeli military finally admitted that it was behind the strikes that killed the five young Palestinian boys of Jabaliya. Whether the NYT reported on that or not matters little. The damage has been done, and that was Israel’s plan from the start.

The New York Times Building. (Michal Osmenda, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

The headline of the BBC story of Aug. 16, “Gaza’s children are used to the death and bombing,” does not immediately name those responsible for the “death and bombing.” Even Israeli military spokesmen, as we will discover later, would agree to such a statement, though they will always lay the blame squarely on the “Palestinian terrorists.”

When the story finally reveals that a little girl, Layan, was killed in an Israeli strike, the language was carefully crafted to lessen the blame on her Israeli murderers. The girl, we are told, was on her way to the beach with her family, when their tuk-tuk “passed by a military camp run by the militant group Palestinian Islamic Jihad,” which, “at the exact moment, (…) was targeted by Israeli fire.” The author says nothing of how she reached the conclusion that the family was not the target.

One can easily glean from the story that Israel’s intention was not to kill Layan — and logically, none of the 17 other children murdered during the three-day war on Gaza. Besides, Israel has, according to the BBC, tried to save the little girl; alas, “a week of treatment in an Israeli hospital couldn’t save her life.”

Though Israeli politicians have spoken blatantly about killing Palestinians children — and, in the case of former Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, “the Palestinian mothers who give birth to ‘little snakes'” — the BBC report, and other reports on the latest war, have failed to mention this. Instead, it quoted Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, who reportedly said that “the death of innocent civilians, especially children is heartbreaking.” Incidentally, Lapid ordered the latest war on Gaza, which killed a total of 49 Palestinians.

BBC Broadcasting House, London. (Matt Cornock/Flickr)

Even a human-interest story about a murdered Palestinian child somehow avoided the language that could fault Israel for the gruesome killing of a little girl. Furthermore, the BBC also labored to present Israel in a positive light, resorting to quote the occupation army’s statement that it was “devastated by (Layan’s) death and that of any civilians.”

The NYT and BBC have been selected here not because they are the worst examples of Western media bias, but because they are often cited as “liberal,” if not “progressive,” media. Their reporting, however, represents an ongoing crisis in Western journalism, especially relating to Palestine.

Books have been written about this subject, civil society organizations were formed to hold Western media accountable and numerous editorial board meetings were organized to put some pressure on Western editors, to no avail.

Desperate over the unchanging pro-Israel narratives in Western media, some pro-Palestine human rights advocates often argue that there are greater margins within Israel’s own mainstream media than in the U.S., for example. This, too, is inaccurate.

The misnomer of the supposedly more balanced Israeli media is a direct outcome of the failure to influence Western media coverage on Palestine and Israel. The erroneous notion is often buoyed by the fact that an Israeli newspaper, like Haaretz, gives marginal spaces to critical voices, like those of Israeli journalists Gideon Levy and Amira Hass.

Israeli propaganda, one of the most powerful and sophisticated in the world, however, can hardly be balanced by occasional columns written by a few dissenting journalists.

Additionally, Haaretz is often cited as an example of relatively fair journalism, simply because the alternatives — Times of Israel, The Jerusalem Post and other rightwing Israeli media — are exemplary in their callousness, biased language and misconstruing of facts.

The pro-Israel prejudices in Western media often spill over to Palestine-sympathetic media throughout the Middle East and the rest of the world, especially those reporting on the news in English and French.

Since many newspapers and online platforms utilize Western news agencies, they, often inadvertently, adopt the same language used in Western news sources, thus depicting Palestinian resisters or fighters, as “militants,” the Israeli occupation army as “Israeli Defense Forces” and Israeli war on Gaza as “flare ups” of violence.

In its totality, this language misinterprets the Palestinian struggle for freedom as random acts of violence within a protracted “conflict” where innocent civilians, like Layan, are “caught in the crossfire.”

The deadly Israeli wars on Gaza are made possible, not only by Western weapons and political support, but through an endless stream of media misinformation and misrepresentation. Though Israel has killed thousands of Palestinian civilians in recent years, Western media remains as committed to defending Israel as if nothing has changed.

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of the Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books including: These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons (2019), “My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (2010) and The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle (2006). He is non-resident senior research fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA), IstanbulZaim University (IZU). His website is

This article is from  Common Dreams.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

11 comments for “Media Bias Enables Israel’s War on Palestine

  1. Dennis Rice
    August 31, 2022 at 09:45

    Put a LOT of BLAME on “Christian” ministers who know better, but are afraid to speak up for the Palestinians. Most of them are just politicians who wear a black robe on Sunday and are afraid to preach the message of Jesus of the Social Gospel. Palestine ‘never’ was just the land of Jewish people. And the American government, my government, for 75 years, has acted in a cowardly manner towards the rights of the Palestinians. If you write your Senators, as I did, you’ll only get a reply stating how Israel is a Democracy and an ally of the United States. Nothing will be said about the rights of the Palestinians.

  2. Frank Lambert
    August 31, 2022 at 08:27

    And don’t forget the bombardment of Gaza where the Israeli “Defense” Forces killed over 2,000 Palestinian citizens and of course the worthless United Nations did nothing about it, and mainstream (big corporate) media in the un-United Imperial States of America hardly covered it at all, as not to offend their masters. RTAmerica covered it well and those bombed out buildings in Gaza, including a hospital, looked like Warsaw, Poland during the German “intervention” at the start of WWII.

    Also, Drew, an excellent book, “Against Our Better Judgement” by Allison Weir is worth reading.

  3. Hide Behind
    August 31, 2022 at 05:00

    The nation of Israel, and its people within both there and within US borders have more influence over our elected appointed and US military establishments than do the American voting public.
    They throw out the words “anti semitic” and like a sharp sword cuts off and ends any argument in their favor.
    Of course US media outlets let’s Israel censor their programming which means avoiding any rational discussion , careful choice of words, but US media has but propaganda under Goverent and military already so lies, disinformation, and hiding truth is safest and most profitable, afraid of costly litigation.
    The Jewish interference with free speech within and on every grade school through college and u iversity studies.
    It has thrown so much bias of pro Israel that it has almost ended Middle East study.
    Long ago knew most important parts of news papers were Sports and comic sections.
    Editorial sections are no more than government agents and agencies, and entertainment industry one connected mindset.

  4. Jerry's Kids
    August 30, 2022 at 18:19

    “Media Bias Enables Israel’s War on Palestine”

    But only if you choose to watch, listen and read this same media.
    Turn them off!

    They make money by attracting your eyeballs. When you turn them off, their ratings, their page-views all go down. This makes their product less valuable to advertisers. They sell your eyeballs. So, deny them and you take money out of their pockets. Turn them off.

    It also has the benefit of keeping their propaganda and mind-control out of your mind. When you use the off switch, you get a magic barrier of protection against their lies and mind-control.
    Turn Them Off!

    Tune in, Drop Out.

  5. Peter Loeb
    August 30, 2022 at 14:04

    As an analyst once observed, major powers do not apply the so-called “rules of law” to themselves or their allies.

  6. Vera Gottlieb
    August 30, 2022 at 12:20

    Will the day ever come when the Western world grows balls big enough to stand up to israel???

  7. renate
    August 29, 2022 at 17:47

    A war crime tribunal for Israeli, American, and Western war criminals is long overdue.

  8. Lubomir Kolev
    August 29, 2022 at 17:40

    Incredible enough is the silence of the western world on the mass killing of innocent Palestinians, It looks like they do not exist and if they do, they are like a safari praying for the Israeli soldiers, armed to the teeth with the latest weapons that no other army in the world has. this is just horrible and the fact that the rest of the world acts like ? ,? , ?, the situation is even more horrible. Wonder why we call ourselves humans at all ?!?

    • BP
      August 30, 2022 at 16:20

      Ever consider what this would look like if it was the Palestinians that have the money and weapons? Do they apply their money and effort towards building and rebuilding, towards peace and prosperity? Honestly, do you even know what the Palestinian policies are about peace, Palestinian statehood, and their relationship with Israel?

  9. Dfnslblty
    August 29, 2022 at 16:45

    NYT feeds similar pablum about usa domestic atrocities.
    After teevee news it seems to be what usa citizens want, and are able to digest.
    Thankful for CN and other outlets for independent reportage.

  10. Drew Hunkins
    August 29, 2022 at 16:34

    Nothing was more nauseating then in 2018 watching Israeli snipers gun down in cold-blood innocent unarmed Palestinian protesters. The Israeli Defense [sic] Forces killed scores of helpless Palestinians at the Gaza concentration camp fence — in front of myriad int’l TV news channels — and got away with it!

    Witnessing these grotesque murders carried out with impunity were a seminal moment for me. It made me reach for literature I otherwise wouldn’t have bothered reading, such as Israel Shahak’s “Jewish History, Jewish Religion” and Gilad Atzmon’s “Being in Time.” Two phenomenal works.

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