Today, practically all Western media reflects that one-eyed stance towards the ever-deteriorating Palestinian crisis. They have not only adopted a strategy of disregarding Palestinians, but they have also collectively proceeded to commit information terrorism against the residents of Palestine. Social media has proven to be a double-edged sword during the recent bloodshed in Gaza and the occupied Palestinian territory. A cease-fire was declared at 2 a.m. Friday, but not before a tragic escalation in which Israeli air raids on Gaza killed at least 243 Palestinians, including 66 children. The digital environment has taken center stage during the last two weeks. It created a platform for the direct, unfiltered recording of on-the-ground reality, as well as a way of sharing information in a variety of forms and formats. However, where there is good usage, there is also misuse. Tech behemoths have come under fire for allegedly restricting Palestinian material, failing to combat misinformation, and permitting the instigation of violence. Platforms were also exploited and exploited to disseminate official misinformation.
Not a New Phenomenon…
When Palestinians protest or physically confront Israeli attacks, their outrage is often characterized as an “escalation of violence” in the Western media. Historically, however, there did not appear to be an upsurge in violence when Israel escalated night raids on Palestinian residences or Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian farmers. The recent Ramadan violence at Sheikh Jarrah is yet another incident of the mainstream Western media’s portrayal of Palestinians as on the offensive.
On May 5, Reuters published an article documenting the Sheikh Jarrah collapse before the court hearing that fueled the ongoing violence. Sheikh Jarrah, according to Reuters, is a section of Jerusalem that Israel “captured” from its eastern neighbor during the 1967 Middle East war, concealing a history of forced expulsions in the area and contributing to a covert worldwide understanding that Israel has legal rights over the area and opposing views are at best debatable. According to a Reuters report from May 11 titled “Palestinian rocket fire, Israeli strikes in Gaza into the second day,” the Israeli strikes were carried out “in response” to “Palestinian” rocket launchers raining down on Israel.
War of Deliberate Ignorance
The New York Times is doing its best to remain impartial, despite hints in social media captions of “Gaza militants” firing rockets followed by Israeli reprisal, obscuring the Palestinian fight beneath Hamas’ vast curtain of terror. A recent New York Post tweet reported that Hamas’s terrorist attacks in Israel killed 20, entirely flipping the reality. As a result of the backlash, the tweet was removed. A photograph was extensively disseminated when Hamas rebels fired rockets at Israel from Gaza after Israeli soldiers murdered several children, women, and civilians in and around the Al-Aqsa Mosque. David Cronin, who used to cover the violence in Gaza for The Guardian, claimed one of his editors instructed him to “avoid reporting the crisis entirely.”
Over time, Western mainstream media evolved accustomed to ignoring the backdrop of the Israel-Palestine conflict. As a result, readers have a limited awareness of what is going on, how Palestine territory was and continues to be occupied, what Palestine truly is, and how historically one-sided the assault has been. This includes the fact that 7 out of 10 Gazans are recognized as refugees, owing to the fact that many of these families were forced to evacuate their homes following Israel’s establishment in 1948. The Palestinians were labeled as terrorists, according to a statement. They have no right to defend themselves or to self-defense. Following then, the Israeli jet began bombing. Tanks on the ground are used to launch an attack. US President Joe Biden first condemned Hamas’s missile fire as a “terrible crime,” but subsequently stated that “Israel has a right to self-defense.” This means that if Israel believes its security is endangered, it may use bombs to kill countless innocent children with the consent of the US.
In the United States, mainstream and conservative Jewish diaspora groups have deployed enormous lobbying resources, financial contributions, and citizen pressure on the news media and other public forums to support the Israeli government. These groups are fast to spot bias in Middle East coverage. For many, the most immediate and emotional outlet for engaging with the “war” 6,000 miles away is rooting out alleged anti-Israel bias in the media. There is a strong desire to act, and the current struggle for diaspora outside of Israel is a “Hasbarah” (Hebrew for public relations) struggle, according to Ira Youdovin, executive vice president of the Chicago Board of Rabbis, in April 2002.
Social Media: Whose side are they on?
Just mainstream media? No. Social media giants like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp are showing their same look against Palestine. Residents of Sheikh Jarrah reported that their Instagram stories were generating less interaction and fewer views for unknown reasons. Meanwhile, the nearly 130,000-member group “Save Sheikh Jarrah” was temporarily blocked on Facebook, Instagram’s parent company, for “violating community standards.” Many recently posted scenes of the eviction of Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah, on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have deliberately censored the content. With the argument of deleting this content, Instagram says it is a ‘global technical issue’. There has been a widespread outcry on social media recently after the Twitter account of Palestinian writer Mariam Barghuti was shut down. Twitter later activated her account, saying Barghuti’s account had been “accidentally shut down”. According to misinformation specialists, the effect of the misinformation is potentially lethal, inflaming tensions between Israelis and Palestinians at a time when suspicions and hatred are already high.
A Digital Warfare
A video was posted on the Israeli army’s Twitter account showing a rocket being kept at a confined area. The tweet claimed that it was an area of Gaza and that the rocket belonged to Hamas. But Reuters journalist Rafael Sattar analyzed the picture and said that the picture was actually from 2018 and it was a picture of a military training center in Israel. The video was then removed from Twitter. In fact, Israel is now waging a direct military operation as well as a digital war. There is a considerable distance between truth and reality with the propaganda they are waging in that digital war. The way the Western media uses phrases like “clash,” “conflict,” and “property dispute” to describe situations like occupation, shooting, and bombing conceals Israeli aggression. The use of passive voices like these silences the cause’ or ‘target’ of violence. The good news is that the world’s peace-loving people have started to reject the western media’s propaganda tactic, which has been friendly to Israel while disregarding decades of suffering Palestinians. The media should stop disseminating disinformation and instead focus on truth and justice – that is the expectation.