OPINION: News Media Isn’t Truthful of the Israel-Palestine Conflict

Asymmetrical reporting only worsens people’s understanding of a complex issue.


Palestinian Censorship was thrown out in 1948, thrown out in 2021; the Palestinian knows no relent and is made a refugee in their own homeland twice over. Western media has consistently repeated its betrayal of the Palestinian people by refusing them, as Columbia University Professor Edward put it, “The right to have their own narrative.”
The colonized are expropriated, have their land taken by force, subjugated under perpetual surveillance and movement control, but when the colonized raise a fist or a rock–it is then conflict begins for Western media.
Celebrities and liberals across the West will pour over social media prayers, decrial of violence on both sides and a plea for the safety of the children at the very least. But very alarming, there is a way where these humanist pleas become silent in the backdrop of atrocities.
There is no question on the moral cause of the Palestinians, as there is no question on the moral cause of the Native Americans or the South Africans. The question at the moment is one of power; specifically an asymmetry of power and an asymmetry of international clout.
In 2021 there was an inflection point for technology and media; in the U.S. you have a generation of youth who saw the George Floyd uprisings–who marched, protested, were shot and tear gassed. They’ve seen the police in riot gear for simple non-political events like vigils; to see similar treatment like this of other peoples is bound to have a reaction.
Let us never forget the Nakba of 1948, when over 500,000 Arabs were evicted at gunpoint from their home. Many of these refugees became the 7-million Palestinians refugees outside Palestine today with a denied “Right of Return,” or the ability to come back to their homes; a law under international treatment of refugees and war time.
Sheikh Jarrah, a neighborhood in East Jerusalem, cultivated some of the Nakba refugees as Israel illegally annexed East Jerusalem in the 1980s. The United Nations passed a “Security Council Resolution,” declaring Israeli annexations in East Jerusalem as illegitimate as well as the settlements Israel continued to expand and sponsor. While unrecognized under international law, more and more of the refugees were being dispossessed in many neighborhoods like Sheikh Jarrah.
In 2021 the process continued with settlers literally just breaking in and squatting in Sheikh Jarrah residents’ homes. As more and more images and information of the dispossession started growing, there were continuous clashes in the street followed by mobs of ultranationalist Zionists chanting, “Death to Arabs!” in these villages. During Ramadan, as protests grew, restrictions on Al-Aqsa mosque grew by leveraging people’s religious affairs during the holy month; there was not going to be a surprise of what the reaction would be.
For the Palestinian people to see the dispossession of Sheikh Jarrah, then to see sound grenades go off in Al-Aqsa Mosque, a conflict that can get worse thereafter is unfortunately tied to colonial enterprise.
The asymmetry does not apply simply to warfare but also representation, posts and videos documenting on-the-ground events are being taken down on regular social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. Zoom as well has repeatedly blocked its service to university programs that invited Palestinian speakers, who were blacklisted for their Palestine-related activism.
Censorship is also the media’s silence on the asymmetry of power and the origins of how Palestinian land was partitioned. The U.S. media’s focus on terrorism places the discussion in the immediacy of conflict but never during the ongoing day-to-day harassment. The check points every five blocks, waking up to occupation forces breaking into your house and ransacking it, just seeing the occupying force take your land or watching the force protect a settler taking it.
The media that stays silent on the asymmetry of power will never convey to the audience; why after a century of colonization, the conditions in the occupied West Bank tend towards revolt? Because for many reasons the Palestinian people can no longer breathe.
On the other level there is the particular silence of liberals, the particular silence in that it continues to offer up this humanist solution to the conflict. More talks, negotiations and exposure—but fails to see that 20 years from Oslo. The amount of settlers in legally annexed Palestinian territory has grown from around 100,000 in 2001 to over 400,000 in 2018.
Under Trump and many other presidents there have been annexation sprees. The U.S. recognized Morocco’s claim over a disputed part of South Saharan, and removed Sudan from a terror list and sanctions. They as well sold the best military technology: F-16 Jets to the United Arab Emirates, all to get them to sign on to a normalization treaty with Israel.
A humanist solution to the conflict sounds ideal and is found in durable processes such as negotiations and forums, but it seems clear that the ongoing policy of settler expansionism shows that the work towards mutual recognition was never in good faith.
Thus the liberal that offers the humanist solution every time the underlying tension comes to bear creates silence as a deflection of the international community’s duty to the equal treatment of countries; revealed is their self-determination given the asymmetry of power. This condemnation of the Palestinian people to a cycle of annexation, revolt, and military response by the occupiers leads to further escalation until rocket fire trades.
From now on, pushing back against media narratives that paints Middle Eastern resistance as terrorism or sadistic violence, must be a re-direction towards the fact of how occupation is ongoing violence. Not being silent in the wake of these horrors is an obligation the international community has to ending the world’s longest occupation.