Saturday 11th November, Armistice day, and The Guardian is editorialising on the Israel-Hamas war. “Fake news thrives on poorly regulated online platforms”, it warns. Well, yes, that’s true and it does, alongside a lot of accurate and sometimes courageous reporting. But then, even 50 years after a war, historians will still argue about key aspects. What we should be more worried about is the things that the mainstream media present as the impartial, background truth.
That’s the point Rami Ruhayem, a BBC correspondent based in Beirut, recently underlined when he wrote a public letter warning that the corporation was ‘complicit’ in Israel’s recent bombing of Gaza, rather than being neutral. The same charge can be made of many other outlets.
Here’s seven examples of how the media has, in large part, propagandised in support of what looks like a 21st century genocide.
1. Israel is at war with Hamas and is trying to minimise civilian casualties
NBC News on Nov 8, 2023 wrote: “Thousands of civilians headed towards southern Gaza after Israel warned residents to leave the north of the enclave, particularly Gaza City, which the IDF says it has encircled. The UN estimates that at least 15,000 people have heeded the Israeli military’s warnings.”
Note the language! It sounds like Israel is some kind of helpful observer. The BBC too talks of Palestinians “heeding Israel’s warnings”, rather than of them fleeing Israel’s bombing campaign – a campaign that has already killed over 10 000 civilians.
“War” is a flexible term, but really applies to conflicts between states. Hamas is, as we are constantly told, “a terrorist organisation”. If, in a real war, total war, bombs are dropped on cities, in conflicts between terrorists and governments they are not. At least, that is, until now. The result is that since November 6, the health ministry in the Hamas-controlled enclave said at least 10,022 people in Gaza have since been killed, including 4,104 children.
No wonder that the order Isreal issued for more than 1.1 million Palestinians in Gaza City and the northern Gaza Strip to flee to the south has been said by Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council, to ‘amount to the war crime of forcible transfer’.
The mass exodus comes amid ongoing bombardment and a dire shortage of water, food, and fuel. Photo journalist Mohammed Zaanoun described frantic civilians carrying what they could on foot, in cars, or huddled in trucks along Gaza’s central highway, which was targeted by an Israeli airstrike that killed 70 people.
Read more: Seven Ways Israel Controls The News Agenda