The Media vs Palestine


Joi Ito, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Erlan Benedis-Grab

When learning about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that has been going on for decades, the media is an increasingly important factor in bringing people the latest of what is going on in the region. But is the media reporting objective or biased? 

I believe the media has always been biased towards Israel because of the relationship the United States and Israel share. A Toronto-based research group called 416Labs looked at over 100,000 headlines over a 50 year period, the largest and most comprehensive study to date. Its reports showed that headlines about Israel were statistically more positive than headlines about Palestinian. Another conclusion of this analysis indicates that words relating to “terror” appeared three times as much as the word “occupation” when referring to the situation in Israel. The study also showed that words relating to “occupation” had an overall 75% decrease as well. 

Unfortunately for those who rely on the media, the narrative it  pushes does not tell the whole story. Since 1967, when the study of headlines started, Israel has annexed the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza strip, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Golan heights. (Israel gave the Sinai Peninsula back to Egypt in a peace deal in 1976). In the last 50 years, Israel’s occupation of Palestinian communities and Arab lands has expanded at great human cost. The Palestian exodus in the aftermath of the 1948 Palestine war saw an estimated 700,000 to 900,000 Palestinians expelled from their homes by Isareli forces. Some of them attempted to form alliances with Nazi Germany leading up to World War II. 

Following the data over the last 20 years, there has been a net decrease in deaths from Palestinian terrorist attacks in Israel. However during the Israeli Defense Force’s operation protective edge in 2014,1,372, Palestinian civilians died which is roughly 3 times more than the number of Isarelis killed by terroslism in the 10 years leading up to it. While all civilian deaths are regrettable as they are not legitimate military targets, these statistics represent the imbalance of military violence that Palestians face compared to the Isralis. Even outside of military locations Palestine does not have sovereign control of its borders as a result of the Isarlie blockade which is, according to the World Health Organization, causing “degradation of the quality of care and of the health sector in general.”. However the terror tag is still overshadowing occupation in the headlines, contrary to the facts. 

 Israel’s justification for Operation Protective Edge was that it was a response to rocket fire coming from the Gazan militant group Hamas. Hamas is anti-Israel and sends rockets into Israeli civilian areas, but Israel actually funded the Islamist Hamas to challenge the more secular and powerful Palestinian Liberation Organization back in the 1980s. however justified these attacks may be, the irony here is palpable and is rarely mentioned in conversations. 

The statistics stated the systematic headline bias, but what about sources? Israeli sources are 2.5 times more likely to be quoted than Palestinian ones. 

Mainstream media on television also exemplify views of the establishment without representation of opposing viewpoints. During the Iraq war, American opinion dictated the narrative; 70% of Mainstream Media viewers believed Saddam Hussein was directly involved in the 9/11 attacks. The truth was he had no connection to the attacks, despite the Bush administration’s attempts to find one. Meanwhile there was evidence to suggest a connection with the Saudi government who were allies and thus not investigated, our“friends” in the stone age theocracy of Saudi Arabia. It is proven that too much of one-sided media coverage can dramatically shape opinions without the proper facts.