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Israelis were killed, while Palestinians merely “died.”
That’s the leading headline on the BBC after Israel pummeled Gaza, the world’s largest open-air prison, with Western-supplied bombs after Hamas’s surprise attack and rockets that hit Israel.
Some media outlets are leading with images of injured Palestinian children while reporting on unverified crimes committed by Hamas.
As if given the same script, corporate media anchors and journalists repeat the line that Israel has a right to defend itself as it bombs Gaza’s 2 million Palestinian population, targeting civilians violating international law.
Meanwhile, the same anchors and journalists demand Palestinians denounce violence and Hamas and run with unverified stories handed to them by the Israeli government.
This week’s coverage by Western corporate media underlined its inability to hold the world’s 4th largest military to account for war crimes and instead give airtime to Israeli military officials to incite genocide against Palestinians, who are caged like animals in the world’s largest concentration camp.
Western corporate journalists cannot report neutrally on Israel/Palestine. And here’s just a few examples as to why:
Let’s take The New York Times, for example. Not only has the newspaper constantly supported Israel’s expansionist policies, but it has also directly participated in the dispossession of Palestinians from their homes.
The New York Times’ Jerusalem bureau is built on a Palestinian house that belongs to a noted Palestinian writer Ghada Karmi, a survivor of the Nakba.
The Times also often cooperates with Israeli officials. In 2014, for example, it received and obeyed an Israeli gag order to suppress the news that Israel had arrested a Palestinian journalist.
From 2008 – 2012, The New York Times Israel bureau chief, Ethan Bronner, was exposed to having his 20-year-old son enlist in the Israeli army while he was actively covering the region for the newspaper.
The so-called paper of record never made this public to its readers, raising serious questions of bias and a conflict of interest.
The New York Times also fired Gaza photographer Hosam Salem following an intervention from Israel lobby group Honest Reporting.
However, the paper had no problem employing Ethan Bronner and others like Isabel Kershner and David Brooks to write about Palestine while all three had offspring fighting in the Israeli military.
In general, the consolidation of corporate media since the 1980s has led to ownership by billionaire oligarchs or gigantic multinational corporations that have a strong stake in preserving the status quo of ensuring forever wars continue, and neither of whom want to see nationalist liberation struggles succeed.
The orders come down from up high that news organizations have to support Israel.
Axel Springer – a giant German broadcaster that owns Politico – has explicitly told its staff that it is their duty to support Israel and those that don’t should leave. A wave of firings of Arab journalists across Germany underlined this message.
The BBC, meanwhile, is the state broadcaster for the United Kingdom, a nation that helped create the state of Israel in 1948. Many of its top foreign affairs journalists go on to work for NATO or big think tanks funded by weapons manufacturers who directly profit from war.
The BBC has been continuously criticized for not providing historical context to the crisis in Gaza and linking it to its own British colonial history of helping create the state of Israel through the Balfour Declaration and providing it with weapons to occupy Palestinian land ever since.
American journalists who don’t toe the line on Israel/Palestine are frequently made examples of.
CNN fired anchor Marc Lamont Hill for calling for a free Palestine. Katie Halper was fired from The Hill for (accurately) calling Israel an Apartheid state. And The Guardian sacked Nathan J. Robinson after he made a joke mocking US military aid to Israel.
Other journalists in the industry see these examples, and the message is clear: stick to the script on Israel, or lose your job.
In 2013, an investigation revealed that Buzzfeed was paid huge sums to become a public relations arm for the Israeli military to ensure millennials were sympathetic to the occupation and to show the sexy side of the IDF.
In 2016, an investigation that I personally conducted into VICE News showcased how the hipster rag publishes “soft propaganda” to an anti-mainstream audience while pushing a pro-US and pro-Israel government narrative.
VICE does this by regurgitating releases from the Board of Broadcasting Governors, an arm of the US government that disseminates propaganda abroad through outlets like Voice of America to push for regime change and forever wars that fuel the military-industrial complex.
However, after a lift of its ban to be used in the United States, its reach now is the average American through outlets like VICE.
Of course, these are just a handful of examples of how the media, which is supposed to act as a watchdog to those in power and in the military, is acting as a lapdog for their moneyed interests and military agendas.
This doesn’t even scratch the surface of the the many conflicts of interest within our media that most people don’t know about, including pundits and other journalists who appear within mainstream media outlets and newspapers as “experts” who are actually either simultaneously working with or are trained by think tanks, Public Relation outlets and Israeli lobby groups like AIPAC that take huge sums from the Israeli government and weapons manufacturers to ensure a pro-Israel, pro-war narrative is dominant.
This is why the context of Israel’s history as an occupier, an apartheid state that engages in ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, is almost always left out. Instead, the public is fed with simplified versions of the conflict, presenting it as “complicated,” thousands of years of fighting between religions, Muslim vs Jews – a religious war.
The state of the free press in the Western world is far from free, in fact, they act as stenographers for the military class to ensure profits for weapons manufacturers continue.
This is exactly why in order to break through the fog of war and this soft propaganda, we must turn to independent media like MintPress and others who have preserved their principles of holding the permanent war state and elite accountable – that’s the role of journalism as defined by our first amendment.
Mnar Adley is an award-winning journalist and editor and is the founder and director of MintPress News. She is also president and director of the non-profit media organization Behind the Headlines. Adley also co-hosts the MintCast podcast and is a producer and host of the video series Behind The Headlines. Contact Mnar at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @mnarmuh