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Media Lens: Killing Mosquitoes: The Latest Gaza Massacres, Pro-Israel Media Bias And The Weapon Of ‘Antisemitism’

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10 April 2018

Killing Mosquitoes: The Latest Gaza Massacres, Pro-Israel Media Bias And The Weapon Of ‘Antisemitism’

The Palestinians have long been seen as an obstacle by Israel's leaders; an irritant to be subjugated. Noam Chomsky commented:
'Traditionally over the years, Israel has sought to crush any resistance to its programs of takeover of the parts of Palestine it regards as valuable, while eliminating any hope for the indigenous population to have a decent existence enjoying national rights.'
He also noted:
'The key feature of the occupation has always been humiliation: they [the Palestinians] must not be allowed to raise their heads. The basic principle, often openly expressed, is that the "Araboushim" - a term that belongs with "nigger" or "kike" - must understand who rules this land and who walks in it with head lowered and eyes averted.' (Noam Chomsky, 'Fateful Triangle,' Pluto Press, 1999, p.489)
Recent events encapsulate this all too well. On Friday, March 30, Israeli soldiers shot dead 14 Palestinians and wounded 1400, including 800 hit by live ammunition. By April 5, the death toll had risen to 21. During a second protest, one week later on Friday, April 7, the Israelis shot dead a further 10 Palestinians, including a 16-year-old boy, and more than 1300 were injured. Among those killed was Yasser Murtaja, a journalist who had been filming the protest. He had been wearing a distinctive blue protective vest marked 'PRESS' in large capital letters. The brutality, and utter brazenness with which the killings were carried out, is yet another demonstration of the apartheid state's contempt for the people it tried to ethnically cleanse in 1948, the year of Israel's founding.
On the first day of the protest, on March 30, many Palestinians had gathered in Gaza, close to the border with Israel, as part of a peaceful 'Great March of Return' protest demanding the right to reclaim ancestral homes in Israel. 100 Israeli snipers lay in wait, shooting at protesters, including an 18-year-old shot in the back while running away from the border. The Israel army boasted in a quickly-deleted tweet that the massacre had been planned, deliberate and premeditated:
'Nothing was carried out uncontrolled; everything was accurate and measured, and we know where every bullet landed'
BBC News and other 'mainstream' news outlets, including the Guardian, carried headlines about 'clashes' at the Gaza-Israel border 'leaving' Palestinians dead and injured. As we noted via Twitter, an honest headline would have read:
'Israeli troops kill 16 Palestinians and injure hundreds'
When the Israelis shot dead yet more Palestinians on the second Friday of protests, the BBC reported, 'Deadly unrest on Gaza-Israel border as Palestinians resume protest'. BBC 'impartiality' meant not headlining Israeli troops as the agency responsible for the 'deadly unrest'.
Adam Johnson, writing for Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting, observed of news reports carrying inappropriate headlines about 'clashes':
'We do not have one party's snipers opening fire on another, unarmed party; we have "violent clashes"—a term, as FAIR has noted before, that implies symmetry of forces and is often used to launder responsibility.'
Later, the Guardian quietly removed the word 'clashes' from its headlines, while adding Israeli military spin: that the protest was a Hamas ploy to 'carry out terror attacks'; compare this early version with a later version.
On the first Friday of mass killing, we noted that the Israeli newspaper Haaretz had reported the presence of Israeli snipers. We asked the public to look for any mention of this on BBC News. Around the time we made the request, the Newssnifferwebsite picked up the first reference to 'snipers' on the BBC News website (albeit buried in a tiny mention at the bottom of a news article). Coincidence? Or were BBC editors aware that their output was under public scrutiny?
Within just one day, the BBC had relegated the news of the mass shootings in Gaza to a minor slot on its website. It considered 'news' about television personality Dec presenting Saturday Night Takeaway without Ant, and royal couple Harry and Meghan choosing wedding flowers, more important than Israel killing and wounding many hundreds of Palestinians.
When BBC News finally turned to Gaza, with a piece buried at the bottom of its World news page, it was from Israel's perspective:
'Israel warns it could strike inside Gaza'
and:
'Palestinian groups using protests as a cover to launch attacks on Israel'
This disgraceful coverage strongly suggested that Israel was the victim. As political analyst Charles Shoebridge observed:
'Editors especially at the BBC aren't stupid, they know exactly what they're doing, and the use of very many devices such as this isn't somehow repeatedly accidental. Indeed, it's a good example of how the BBC is perhaps history's most sophisticated and successful propaganda tool.'
By contrast, a powerful article in Haaretz from veteran Israeli journalist Gideon Levy pointed to the reality that the mass shooting by Israeli 'Defence' Forces:
'shows once again that the killing of Palestinians is accepted in Israel more lightly than the killing of mosquitoes.'
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The first Media Lens book, 'Guardians of Power: The Myth of the Liberal Media', was published in 2005 by Pluto Press.
The second Media Lens book, 'NEWSPEAK in the 21st Century', was published in 2009, also by Pluto Press.
In 2012, Zero Books published 'Why Are We The Good Guys?' by David Cromwell.

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