Caitlin Johnstone: How the Imperial Media Report on an Israeli Massacre

Headline writers have been performing verbal gymnastics to avoid saying Israel massacred starving people who were waiting for food.

(Josh Hallett, Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

By Caitlin Johnstone

Listen to Tim Foley reading this article. 

In what many are now calling the Flour Massacre, at least 112 Gazans were killed and hundreds more injured after Israeli forces opened fire on civilians who were waiting for food from much-needed aid trucks near Gaza City on Thursday.

Initial investigations by Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor found that the crowd was fired upon by both IDF automatic rifles and by Israeli tanks, and that dozens of gunshot victims were hospitalized after the incident.

Israel’s version of events has of course changed over the course of the day as narrative managers figure out how best to frame publicly available information in a way that doesn’t harm Israel’s PR interests. 

Currently we’re at Israel admitting that IDF troops did indeed fire upon the crowd after previously denying this, but claiming that this isn’t what caused most of the casualties, saying it was actually the Palestinians trampling each other in a human “stampede” which caused them harm. Essentially the current argument is “Yes we shot them, but that’s not why they died.”

The IDF claims Israeli troops only began firing on the Palestinians because the soldiers “felt threatened” by them, which goes to show that there is no atrocity Israel could possibly commit where it wouldn’t frame itself as the victim. 

Israel’s Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir took the opportunity to praise the IDF for heroically fighting off the dangerous Palestinians and to argue that the incident proves it’s too dangerous to keep allowing aid trucks into Gaza.

As terrible as the Israeli spin machine has been on this atrocity, the Western imperial media have been even worse. The verbal gymnastics they’ve been performing in their headlines to avoid saying Israel massacred starving people who were waiting for food would be genuinely impressive if it wasn’t so ghoulish.

As Hungry Gazans Crowd a Convoy, a Crush of Bodies, Israeli Gunshots and a Deadly Toll” reads one New York Times header, like the summary of an episode of a Netflix murder mystery show.

Chaotic aid delivery turns deadly as Israeli, Gazan officials trade blame,” says an indecipherably cryptic headline from The Washington Post.

“Biden says Gaza food aid-related deaths complicate ceasefire talks,” says The Guardian. “Food aid-related deaths?” Seriously?

More than 100 killed as crowd waits for aid, Hamas-run health ministry says,” reads a BBC headline. The U.K.’s state broadcaster is here using a tried-and-true tactic for casting doubt on death counts by deliberately associating them with Hamas, despite the fact that the Gaza health ministry’s death counts are considered so reliable that Israeli intelligence services use them in their own internal records.

“At least 100 killed and 700 injured in chaotic incident” says CNN, like it’s describing a frat party that got out of control.

Carnage at Gaza food aid site amid Israeli gunfire” reads another CNN headline, as though the carnage and the Israeli gunfire are two unrelated phenomena which just unluckily occurred at around the same time.

CNN also repeatedly refers to the killings as “food aid deaths,” as though it’s the food aid that killed them and not the military of a very specific and very nameable state power.

(It’s probably worth noting at this point that CNN staff have been anonymously reporting through other outlets that there’s been a uniquely aggressive top-down push within the network to slant reporting heavily in favor of Israeli information interests, driven largely by the new CEO Mark Thompson.)

So that’s what happens when the imperial media report on an Israeli massacre, in case you were curious and haven’t been paying attention since Oct. 7 or the decades which preceded it. The propaganda services of the western press operate in a way that is typically indistinguishable from the spinmeistering of officials in western governments, framing the western empire and its allies in a positive light and their enemies in a negative one. 

This happens because the western mass media do not exist to report the news and give you information about what’s been going on in the world, but to manufacture consent for the political status quo and the globe-dominating power structure it supports.

The only difference between our propaganda and the propaganda of a ruthless dictatorship is that the people who live under a dictatorship know they are being fed propaganda, whereas westerners are trained to believe they are ingesting impartial, factual reporting.

The demolition of Gaza is alerting more and more westerners to the fact that this is happening, though, because the more blatant the atrocities the more ham-fisted the propaganda machine needs to be about running cover for them.

It’s even opening eyes within the propaganda machine itself, which is why we’re seeing things like CNN staff blowing the whistle on their own CEO and New York Times staff telling The Intercept that their bosses committed extremely egregious journalistic malpractice in producing atrocity propaganda alleging mass rapes by Hamas on Oct. 7. 

The only good thing about what’s happening in Gaza is that it’s waking westerners up to the fact that everything they’ve been told about their society, their media and their world is a lie. Cracks are appearing in the illusion, and those of us who care about truth, peace and justice need to help draw attention to them. From there, real change becomes a genuine possibility.

Caitlin Johnstone’s work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following her on FacebookTwitterSoundcloudYouTube, or throwing some money into her tip jar on Ko-fiPatreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy her books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff she publishes is to subscribe to the mailing list at her website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything she publishes.  For more info on who she is, where she stands and what she’s trying to do with her platform, click here. All works are co-authored with her American husband Tim Foley.

This article is from and re-published with permission.

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

25 comments for “Caitlin Johnstone: How the Imperial Media Report on an Israeli Massacre

  1. March 2, 2024 at 15:19

    Every paragraph in this essay is devastatingly incisive.

    How ironic that the video is narrated by Amy Goodman, probably before Democracy Now! found it necessary to sing along with the liberal hegemonic choir.

  2. Horatio
    March 2, 2024 at 12:25

    Fundamentally, the world is still fighting nazism. The term is simply transposed into zionism. Hitler”s nazis believed that the aryan was superior and wanted Germany for Germans. The Jews/Zionist/Hebrews/Israelites believe they are anointed by god to be the chosen people. There is no daylight between the two philosophies. Truman, in recognizing Israel in 1948 should have recognized Palestine as well. His heart overloaded his brain which is the core of the situation now.

  3. Francis Lee
    March 2, 2024 at 07:45

    I would like to raise 2 peripheral issues among many of the IDF behaviours during their ”animal” conduct. The first: A number of catholic women sought refuge in a catholic church against the carnage going on outside. After a time one of the elderly women needed to go to the toilet, guided by the younger women. Bad move, the 3 women were shot dead. Naturally, that is what the IDF gorillas do. Even the Pope was aghast at this criminal outrage. Another example of this IDF animalism when was a group of these killers, who entered an empty house, smashed up the living room, and then defecated on the floor. This was there for everyone to see. What fun! Animals? Pretty much!

    You would have to see this in a colonial context where people are treated like animals to get the feel of mass murder. The British have been particularly adept at this sort of racism. H.G.Wells for example who enunciated that ‘those swarms of black and brown, and dirty white, and yellow, who do not come into the new needs of ‘efficiency’ were self-evidently otiose. The World is a World, not a charitable institution, and I take it that they will have to go. The whole tenor and meaning of the , as I see it is that they will have to. go.”

    Yeah right!

    Don’t let the political and money complex rule the world. There’s a war going on after all, and we are all in it BTW.

  4. Francis Lee
    March 2, 2024 at 03:50

    Interestingly the front-page of the Newspapers has concurrently carried the picture of Navalny’s funeral picture in Moscow (I think).

    This was of course a ploy by the media to distract the population from the real issues. To wit, the massacre of the unarmed semi-starving civilians corralled by heavily armed IDF thugs and tanks. According to one outlet:

    ”The political/media were at pains to cover up this barbarism and made no secret of their cover-up. How could a word be interpreted so differently by two groups of people? It’s because of a phenomenon known as coded language, a subtle way members of the public, media, and politicians talk about race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and religion in the US. And with the Black Lives Matter movement and Donald Trump’s (it was Biden actually FL) rise in the Republican primaries, coded language is at the forefront of public dialogue.”

    • AlmostAsItIs
      March 4, 2024 at 08:12

      “coded language is at the forefront of public dialogue.”

      It is more complex than that.

      Words are catalysts of connotations/nuances which are functions of “life experience” which is not universal in content and hence varies facilitating a word to be interpreted so differently by two groups of people thereby limiting focused challenge on phenomena which words are believed to “define/describe.”

      These phenomena have half-lives which will impact the efforts of Mr. Patrick Lawrence and others to transcend matters described in Mr. Lawrence’s recent book – Journalists and their shadows – which is already undermined by framing by not outlining the wisdom of co-operating with strategists of lateral facility, another division of labour in hope of facilitating a modicum of “divide and rule”.

  5. Lois Gagnon
    March 1, 2024 at 22:40

    There’s a giant reckoning coming for everyone involved in this genocide, including the corporate media. There has to be.

  6. Rudy Haugeneder
    March 1, 2024 at 19:31

    Israel is a small country with a small population where, one presumes, word of mouth communication is still common. So why do polls of Jewish Israeli show that a vast, vast majority of them support what is going on?

    • michael888
      March 2, 2024 at 06:46

      Like any primitive peoples, Israelis believe they are the Chosen People, that only Jews have souls. Being raised in an apartheid racist culture, it is difficult for people to develop critical thinking skills that would have them question their culture.

      Defunding Israel by the US would stop the Genocide instantly. Joe Biden and his Zionist State Department obviously WANT THIS TO CONTINUE despite their crocodile tears. It’s almost like his aneurysms (frontal cortex?) left him a psychopath.

  7. Charles E. Carroll
    March 1, 2024 at 18:41

    Free Palestine!

  8. robert e williamson jr
    March 1, 2024 at 17:59

    I had to hurry with my earlier post. I recommend any and all review the video presented at the site I listed in that comment..

    I have seen enough to see that the entire video and associated commentary by the IDF individual or who ever he was is to identify this report as a gross misrepresentation of fact.

    Israel knows damned well what they are doing and I refuse to believe anything they claim now.

    The Palestinian’s are dying of exposure, thirst and malnutrition – a given.

    The Palestinian’s are “Kettled” – forced into a concentrated group by Israeli IDF – panicked and desperate to survive.

    What we witness is them being triggered by the arrival of supposed aid and responding to a stimulus, which Israel should have expected and displays video from the air above. Using aerial video obtained from above. I see very few trucks considering the size of the Palestinian crowds to be relieved by the arriving aid.

    What could go wrong? Nope I ain’t buying one word the IDF liars speak.

  9. March 1, 2024 at 17:38

    Remember Tiananmen Square? You know, the horrible Chinese? This is thousands of times worse. And a ceasefire is not the answer. The answer is to follow the law established at Nuremberg following WW II, holding those responsible for genocide and ethnic cleansing to account, and recognizing the reality of a Palestinian State in the borders allocated for such purpose in 1947.

  10. Michael Dattilo Rubbo
    March 1, 2024 at 17:23

    I think this massacre was a planned operation. What is indicative of a set up to me is that the Convoy was under IDF control. Mark Regev has admitted that to Chrzstine Annapour whilst uttering pious comments about the need to get food to Gazans.

    Why did the convoy stop half way at 4 am in the dark near an Israeli checkpoint with tanks waiting at a place called the Neblasi roundabout.

    A gaza informant says the shooting started at 3.55 am in the pitch dark. Why didn’t’ the Israelis time the convoy to arrive in north Gaza during daylight hours when the crowding and confusion around the trucks would have been more maneagble and not in darkness when chaos could be predicted to reign. It was intentional timing to cover the shooting with panic.

    Lastly, evidence of pre planning. Many of the vcitims I note from the footage were knee capped, a ploy which the Israelis used in 2019 during rhe Great March of Return on the barracades. It is a way to permanently cripple people in the most demoralizing way. That had to be preplanned requiring night vision rifles

    • Vera Gottlieb
      March 2, 2024 at 05:55

      In case you have doubts: the entire Gaza military action WAS PLANNED!!! going back to 1930 when Zionists, already then, were planning ethnic cleansing of Palestine in order to create ‘greater israel’. It is totally abhorrent how the Anglo/Saxon world stands by in deafening silence.

      • AsItWasAndIs
        March 4, 2024 at 08:20

        ” the entire Gaza military action WAS PLANNED!!! going back to 1930 when Zionists, already then, were planning ethnic cleansing of Palestine in order to create ‘greater israel’.”

        It goes back further since Mr. Herzl and many others understood that “military action” would be a pre-requisite for the ceation of “The Jewish State” or any settler colonialist entity.

        This was also understood by the British Empire facilitating/ informing the fire sale transfer of the Suez canal “shares” from Egypt and the contingent assignment of roles to the developing Jewish state to a “protective” role in regard to The Suez Canal, the premature Sykes-Picot agreement of May 1916, the British/French/Israeli conspiracy/invasion of Egypt in 1956, and the subsequent chastisement of the British/French by “The United States of America” for attempting to undermine not-widely publicised roles that “The United States of America” was pursuing, as was the case when NATO bombed the Danube north of the Iron gates in 1999 to remind Austria and Germany that “they did not win the Cold War”.


        No – For shame Zion, for shame, and self-destruction with a little help from their friends.

        “I am HATING these murderous PIGS”

        Resort to “emotionalism” is self-defeating – one of the tools in the toolkit from the virtual destruction of the Bund throughout Europe from 1941 to 1945, and contingent opportunities for conflations of the Zionists with “the Jews”.

        Being hated and its facilitation has been a tool of Zion since Mr. Herzl.

    • Hank Jones
      March 2, 2024 at 10:41

      Ditto for October 7!

    • AsItWasAndIs
      March 4, 2024 at 08:05

      ” It is a way to permanently cripple people in the most demoralizing way.”

      If you fire from behind through the leg into the knee caps, or destroy all access of the duly injured to medical care, although the latter is not 100% guaranteed.

  11. Konrad
    March 1, 2024 at 17:20

    I may add from my experience of reading German media, for instance The Welt that reported one could not possibly call it a massacre because facts were not known, the unconditional spewing out of Israeli propaganda narrative is truly sickening, especially on German mainstream media..while the genocide is continuing without any state actor, not even surrounding Muslim Arab states, having the moral guts to step in and stop the slaughter of Palestinian civilians, if necessary by military force disarming and disbanding that murderous IDF, shame on you for eternity, Zionist supremacy Israel and enablers the USA! From an Australian living in Germany.

  12. Drew Hunkins
    March 1, 2024 at 17:10

    Anyone justifying this in the mainstream press, gov’t officials, Western politicos, scholars and intellectuals in the academe, ALL must face eventual justice some day.

    ALL must be tried, convicted and imprisoned for life for sickening crimes against humanity.

    What the arrogant and creepy sadistic Zionist supremacists are doing in Gaza cannot be tolerated, it’s absolutely intolerable!

    I’ve fired off over half a dozen scathing letters to local and state newspapers since the disgusting Zionist supremacists started their massacres, only to never see them appear in print. (Yes, they were probably just a bit too harsh, but there is a major ethnic cleansing going on.)

    This simply can’t continue. There are no two sides to this, any sentient being must at least choose the obvious side: the Palestinians.

    And one last thing: the ONLY way this stops is when Zionist supremacist power in Washington, here, here in the USA!, is confronted and challenged. No longer can they dominate the media, no longer can they browbeat and intimidate activists and politicians. They must be toppled. All the non-violent protests supporting the Palestinians won’t do a single thing until we defeat Zionist power in Washington.

    For further reading:

    “Jewish History, Jewish Religion” by Israel Shahak
    “Power of Isral in the U.S.” by James Petras
    “Holocaust Industry” by Norman Finkelstein
    “Wandering Who?” by Gilad Atzmon
    “They Dare to Speak Out” by Paul Findley

  13. JonnyJames
    March 1, 2024 at 16:15

    Ms. Johnstone never misses a beat. This is yet another flagrant, atrocity that has scant attention in the MassMedia Cartel (Ministry of Truth). The Guardian US online terms it: “food aid deaths” WTF does that even mean?

    Yes, the “narrative managers” (bullshit artists) are paid well to use misleading language to blame victims and excuse atrocities.

    I miss George Carlin; he would be having a field day taking the piss out of the latest barrage of NewSpeak and pathetic euphemisms of the MassMedia Cartel.

    Gostola notes that the NYT is “acting like a US intel agency” That’s because it, like WaPo is basically a mouthpiece for the CIA when it comes to international affairs. The CIA website even boasts that they have assets in academia, the media, Congress etc.

    Similarly, The Guardian, is a mouthpiece for MI6, at least Craig Murray said something similar when they threw Assange under the bus.

  14. Steve
    March 1, 2024 at 15:36

    Bernard at MoonofAlabama reports that the food convoy was NOT a UN food convoy and was potentially a trap set by the IDF to attract starving Palestinians so that they could be executed, like a turkey shoot.
    Maybe I’m wrong and shooting starving people because they scramble and overun a food convoy and frighten the roughy, toughy soldiers in their tanks is perfectly normal, but maybe that’s antisemitic thinking.

  15. Bob
    March 1, 2024 at 15:29

    Now if it was the Russians instead of the IDF/Israel the whole tone of the article would be different.

    • Hank Jones
      March 2, 2024 at 10:45

      Actually, the Ukraine does this all the time against its OWN CITIZENS and like its actions towards war criminal Israel, the USA gives Big Z BILLIONS! The USA exports support for genocide! Don’t it make ya feel proud to be an Amerikan?

  16. robert e williamson jr
    March 1, 2024 at 15:09

    See hxxps://

    I saw this interview. It must be seen to be believed, IDF rep being interviewed very obviously stumbles several times regurgitating his fiction. It is pretty short, and sound is lost during the interview with specious timing.

    The IDF is doing what they do best, murder innocent civilians.

    Keep the fires of dissent burning.

    Thanks CN

    • Joy
      March 1, 2024 at 17:39

      I tried the link but it didn’t work. Can you check and see if it needs correcting?

  17. Drew Hunkins
    March 1, 2024 at 15:06

    What, you can’t see both sides of this?

    Starving Palestinians are an obvious clear and present danger to IDF soldiers, case closed.

Comments are closed.