Take action to help end Irish media bias against Palestine
As part of their attack on Gaza, Israel has conducted a media war in Ireland – media outlets have spoken to us of being ‘bombarded’ by Israeli press releases and having Israeli spokespeople continually haranguing them. As we’re sure you’ve noticed, this has led to a significant bias in media reportage of the issues – whether on TV, radio or newspapers. We need to redress this imbalance – Irish media outlets must be asked to provide a fair and balanced coverage.
NOTE: You can download this document as a printable PDF here.
Below, we have listed the main anti-Palestinian forms of bias present in the media: lack of context, lack of human empathy towards Palestinians, reporting this one-sided massacre as a ‘war’, as well as other Israeli talking points that are repeated in the media.
If you encounter the types of bias we outline below in any media outlet, we would urge you to contact the outlet by phone, email or letter in order to set the record straight. We cannot emphasise enough the importance of countering anti-Palestinian bias in the media – especially within our national broadcaster, RTE. While our press team are working hard to ensure voices from Gaza and those supporting Palestinian rights are heard, we can all work to ensure our media stops its current anti-Palestinian bias. It is important, when contacting the media, to remain friendly and polite, when asking for truth and balance in media reportage.
Do let us know about any responses you receive, and if you have any further queries don’t hesitate to contact us.
EXAMPLES OF BIAS:
Lack of or false context
- Media reports that follow an incorrect timeline, according to which Hamas opened hostilities rather than Israel (an exception: Robert Fisk). Thus cause and effect are exchanged: Israel’s attack is described as a consequence of Hamas’s rockets, rather than as a cause. (For a correct timeline see for example: The Institute for Middle East Understanding timeline; respected journalist and author Ali Abunimah’s analysis)
- Reports that fail to mention that Gaza has been under a crippling and illegal blockade by Israel since 2006, an act of daily aggression by Israel. Thus the constant repetition by Israeli propagandists that “no state can tolerate missiles being fired at its territory on a regular basis” omits contextualisation – i.e., the missiles aren’t just fired out of motiveless malice, and the fundamental facts of occupation, siege and embargo are behind the acts of resistance.
- Reports that fail to mention that throughout the year, Israel is killing people on a weekly basis in Gaza, many of them children. Prior to ‘Pillar of Cloud’ in 2012 no Israelis were killed by fire from Gaza. 71 Palestinians were killed by fire from Israel.
- Reports that misleadingly claim Hamas “violently seized power” in the Gaza strip, without mentioning that they won a “free and fair” election in January 2006, the results of which were ignored by the “international community”.
A false characterisation of Israeli violence
- Statements or implications that this is a conflict between two equal opponents are false and need to be challenged. To date over 100 Palestinians, the majority of them civilians, have been killed. 3 Israelis have been killed. Over 800 Palestinians have been injured, many grievously. Gaza has no airforce, navy nor army: this is emphatically not a ‘war’, it is a massacre.
- Reports which fail to challenge Israel’s characterisation of its actions as “self-defence”. The only thing being defended is a brutal occupation regime. Israel is the occupying power ‘defending’ its military occupation of Palestinian land.
Lack of empathy towards Palestinians
- Reports where the perspective from within which reporting takes place is exclusively Israeli. For example, reports in which official Israeli sources are quoted to the exclusion of Palestinian voices.
- Reports which fail to mention the makeup of the population of Gaza: most of the people are refugees (many from Ashqelon); over half the population are children.
- Reports which fail to refer to the fact that Gaza has no army, airforce or navy. Gaza has no bomb shelters, no Iron Dome missile sheild, whereas there have been constant references to Israelis being “forced to flee to bomb shelters” and to the number of Hamas rockets shot down by the Iron Dome.
- Reports that fail to mention the trauma, the terror that people in Gaza have been subjected to every day with drone flights, electricity cuts, attacks etc
Reports that fail to mention pressure on the hospitals in Gaza re supply of medicines, (largely because of Israel refusing to allow proper supplies of medicine into Gaza)
Ignoring international and human rights law.
- Reports that don’t mention that Gaza is still officially occupied territory under international law, despite Israel’s supposed “unilateral withdrawal” in 2005. Equally it is often not clarified that the settlements that were “withdrawn” (or more correctly, relocated to the West Bank) were illegal under international humanitarian law.
- Reports that don’t mention the fact that Gaza is under total siege and embargo from Israel, its people practically starved, and that these conditions violate international law/humanitarian law. Last month the UN issued a report entitled: “Gaza in 2020, a Liveable Place?” outlining the developing humanitarian catastrophe.
- Reports that don’t mention that this Israeli bombardment has amounted to collective punishment which is illegal under international law, or that dropping bombs on one of the most densely populated areas in the world can ONLY cause civilian casualties, which is also illegal.
- Reports that uncritically repeat the Israeli claim that Hamas “hide rockets among civilians” in order to justify their killings of civilians. The United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (2009) convincingly demolished this claim when Israel made it during Operation Cast Lead. Irish media outlets should not be repeating Israeli justifications for war crimes.
- The killing of journalists by Israel needs to be flagged as does the fact that Israel restrict or prohibit the number of journalists there.
SPECIFIC POINTS REGRADING INDIVIDUAL MEDIA OUTLETS
- If there are news bulletins where the reporting is mainly “from Jerusalem”, such reports will be skewed from the start towards the standpoint of Israel.
- If reports focus on the “suffering” and the “psychological suffering” of Israeli residents, particularly those of Tel Aviv, this effectively serves to minimise the much greater suffering of Palestinians.
- Often the Palestinian residents of Jerusalem are referred to as “Arabs”, not “Palestinians”. This needs to be corrected as it denies the basic right of Palestinians to name themselves, and renders them invisible. Indeed, the Palestinians of East Jerusalem are not even Israeli citizens, they are ‘residents’ in an area which Israel, according to the United Nations, has illegally annexed.
- If reporters refer to Jerusalem as Israel’s “political capital”, they are promoting an Israeli narrative which seeks to normalise the illegal annexation of East Jerusalem. Reports need to clarify that the internationally recognised capital of Israel is Tel Aviv.
THE IRISH TIMES
- The main Irish Times correspondent from the region is an Israeli Zionist, Mark Weiss. His reports have consistently shown a very strong bias in favour of the official Israeli viewpoint. The Irish Times should be asked why it has not sought to balance this bias by also having a Palestinian correspondent from the region, or simply having a correspondent unaligned to either side.