Biased American News Media Fuels Middle East Conflict

By Ray Hanania

October 15, 2015 6 min read

Just type in "mother killed in Gaza" or "Rahaf Hassan" in any online search engine and you won't find much in the mainstream American news media.

Type in "Israel attack" or "Eitam and Naama Henkin" into the search engine and your computer won't stop spinning with news media hits and pages of stories about the two Israeli settlers gunned down while driving through the Occupied West Bank.

The difference in the coverage of the violence in Israel and Palestine by the Israeli and the mainstream American news media is striking.

There are two major media reports, and two dozen other listings, including a few Palestinian and Arab blog sites (including my own TheArabDailyNews.com) and several pro-Israel and anti-Palestinian hate sites like "Honest Reporting" and "Front Page Magazine," which mention the woman's death but blame it all on Palestinian "terrorism."

Most never print Palestinian victim names. Front Page Magazine complains that the mainstream news media is not blaming Palestinians enough for the terrorism. Only The Houston Chronicle and The New York Times mention the victim by name, in passing, as a part of a story on the rising violence.

Neither does a particularly vicious op-ed in the notoriously anti-Arab newspaper, the New York Post, written by the Jerusalem Post's Senior Knesset Correspondent Lahav Harkov.

It's another example of how the Israeli and mainstream American news media partner up. It's not enough to write with bias in the Israeli press, as Harkov does. The New York Post gives him a platform to twist facts in America, too.

Very little detail is published about the killing of Palestinians, like Noor Hassan. She was 5 months pregnant and her daughter was killed with her. Several of her children were injured when Israel bombed her home.

The Israelis have make a big case that knife-wielding Palestinians are the danger, and the media has bought it. But firing a missile at a pregnant woman in her home might be worse. It's something the media excuses, because the missile was fired by Israel.

This is how the American news media stokes the flames of violence. Israelis are accepting of the violence, as Harkov explains, calling it "daily life." But that's only because the media has sided with them and they downplay or ignore Israeli terrorism against Palestinians.

The Israelis use spin to minimize their violence.

Noor Hassan was sitting in her home playing with her children, talking about her pregnancy and the expected sibling, when the Israeli missile hit her home. Israeli officials said that the missile targeted a Hamas bomb-making facility.

That fits into the stereotype and racism that the U.S. media has embraced about Palestinians. Palestinians, they report, teach their children hatred. Babies carry guns and strap on suicide bomb backpacks.

The same media fails to report on armed Israeli settlers who teach their children hate, too. The Palestinians, they say, don't exist. And that begs the question: If Palestinians don't exist, how can they be terrorists? Well, if Palestinians don't exist, it helps the media not write about them in a humanistic way but demonizes them instead.

The Israelis employ clever description to frame their arguments.

When a Palestinian teenager was shot dead after shooting the armed Israeli settlers in their car, the media described the Palestinian teenager as a "terrorist," not as a "suspect."

In Dimona, in the Negev Desert, where Israel stores its massive nuclear arsenal that Israel and the American mainstream news media pretend does not exist, an Israeli suspect stabbed a Palestinian.

The response of the Israeli police and media were predictable. The Police did not shoot the Israeli, as they do with Palestinian suspects. They didn't blow up the Israelis home, as they do to Palestinian suspects — all without trial, of course. Worse, the Israelis described the Israeli not as a "terrorist" but rather as being "nationalistic."

Although the battle seems to be between Palestinians and Israelis, the real struggle is for the minds of Americans, who pull the strings and exert enormous control in the Middle East.

The Israelis are winning that battle, enlisting the support of mainstream newspapers and American news media through bullying and alliances, while the Palestinians and Arabs withdraw into their proven failed strategy of emotion and anger.

Screaming about the imbalance doesn't help. What will help is to show the American people that for every one incident of Palestinian violence against Israelis reported by the American news media, there are five or more incidents of Israeli violence against Palestinians that are not reported by the American news media.

That's the real war and the news media is at the heart of it.

Ray Hanania is an award-winning Palestinian American columnist managing editor of The Arab Daily News at www.TheArabDailyNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @RayHanania. To find out more about Ray Hanania and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.

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