Mainstream journalists’ failure to explain reasons for Gazan resistance is professional malpractice

Scott McConnell has a piece on Gaza up at the National Interest that emphasizes the ways that the American media have skewed our perception of Gaza’s plight:

If a man from Mars descended to observe Israel’s attack on the Gaza strip, he would have seen one group of humans trapped in a densely populated area, largely defenseless while a modern air force destroyed their buildings at will. He might have learned that the people in Gaza had been essentially enclosed for several years in a sort of ghetto, deprived by the Israeli navy of access to the fish in their sea, generally unable to travel or to trade with the outside world, barred by Israeli forces from much of their arable land, all the while surveyed continuously from the sky by a foe which could assassinate their leaders at will and often did.

This Martian also might learn that the residents of Gaza—most of them descendants of refugees who had fled or been driven from Israel in 1948—had been under Israeli occupation for 46 years, and intensified closure for six, a policy described by Israeli officials as “economic warfare” and privately by American diplomats as intended to keep Gaza “functioning at the lowest level possible consistent with avoiding a humanitarian crisis.” He might note that Gaza’s water supply is failing, as Israel blocks the entry of materials that could be used to repair and upgrade its sewage and water-treatment infrastructure. That ten percent of its children suffer from malnutrition and that cancer and birth defects are on the rise. That the fighting had started after a long standing truce had broken down after a series of tit-for-tat incidents, followed by the Israeli assassination of an Hamas leader, and the typical Hamas response of firing inaccurate rockets, which do Israel little damage.

But our man from Mars is certainly not an American. And while empathy for the underdog is said to be an American trait, this is not true if the underdog is Palestinian.

McConnell then details the way in which Charles Krauthammer, Richard Cohen and David Ignatius at the Washington Post all echo Israeli talking points on Gaza: That Israel withdrew from the territory in 2005 and got only rockets for an answer, and that Hamas is a hateful organization.

Does not publishing this kind of narrative, again and again, constitute a kind of journalistic malpractice, an abrogation of a major newspaper’s responsibility to inform? To imply that the Palestinians have no cause to resist, when rather plainly they exist in circumstances no people on earth would tolerate, is not really different from an actual lie. Israel can lie about Gaza if it wants, as governments do. But should major U.S. newspapers do so in their editorial and opinion pages?

It is hardly as if such journalistic distortions come without cost to Americans. Faced with a vast region of critical strategic importance, American readers are being deprived of information essential to understanding what is going on. The Arab world is radicalizing rapidly, often in anti-American ways, and one stream feeding the radicalism is U.S. diplomatic and moral support for Israel’s cruel blockade of Gaza.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.
Posted in Israel/Palestine

{ 7 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Donald says:

    This is the heart of the problem on the American side–even many of the so-called liberals who are mildly critical of Israel repeat the Israeli line about Gaza. “Raining rockets on Israel”, followed by Israeli retaliation, as though that’s the whole story. Or else “We left Gaza and instead of peace we got rockets”. Over and over and over again we hear some variation of this.

    It’s the Big Lie in action. It’s not the only issue where this happens, but discussion of the I/P conflict in the US is dominated by the Big Lie technique.

  2. Les says:

    They know what their bosses want and what the bosses will not publish.

  3. seafoid says:

    It is so interesting that Israel controls the air, the ground and the sea around Gaza but has zero control of the minds of the free world.

    • Citizen says:

      @ seafoid
      If what you say is true about the minds of the free world, there’s no reason for this blog to exist.

      • seafoid says:

        I don’t agree, citizen. This blog is based on the idea that minds can be opened. And Israel has no influence over that process. There just aren’t enough Zionists in the world to control the story any longer.

  4. In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act. ~ George Orwell

  5. If this constitutes “journalistic malpractice” (and I agree, it does):

    To imply that the Palestinians have no cause to resist, when rather plainly they exist in circumstances no people on earth would tolerate, is not really different from an actual lie. Israel can lie about Gaza if it wants, as governments do. But should major U.S. newspapers do so in their editorial and opinion pages?

    Then what is this, but Presidential malpractice:

    “Let’s understand what the precipitating event here that’s causing the current crisis and that was an ever-escalating number of missiles that were landing not just in Israeli territory but in areas that are populated, and there’s no country on Earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders,” Obama said at press conference in Thailand at the start of a three-nation tour in Asia.

    BTW, Mr. President, where exactly are those “borders” of which you speak?