TRAIPSING THROUGH THE FOG
Listen to the above-linked story with a Palestinian ear. That is, imagine you are a Palestinian Arab listening to the report to see how Palestinians are represented. You will likely hear that the reporter takes the time to humanize the Israeli victims by carefully and dramatically describing the scene of the bombing, and by framing the story from the reactions of a young Israeli (who, incidentally, seems like a really intelligent and decent fellow). You will also hear the translated voice of an Israeli shopkeeper, who spares no eliminationist vitriol for the rightfully elected Hamas-led government (though Islamic Jihad has claimed responsibility for the bombing, the reporter emphasizes through repetition that Hamas considers the bombing an act of “self-defense”).
Still, you might not find any of the above reprehensible on its face. However, as a Palestinian, you might be wondering why no Palestinian voices are heard. Mahmoud Abbas (ostensibly the Palestinian president) is briefly mentioned twice as condemning the bombing, but the Palestinian who gets the most coverage is the twenty-one year old suicide bomber (who is mentioned by name and hometown). Why wasn’t the Hamas official who made the offending statement given an interview, if only for a brief explanation of that statement?
Worse yet, as a Palestinian you might be contrasting the attention to detail (including historical detail) given to the location of the bombing with the void of detail given to the motivation for the bombing. What does the Hamas official mean when he says that the bombing is only “a natural result of the continued Israeli crimes against our people”? Might someone have had the idea of calling him for clarification? Might the reporter have included some examples of what the Hamas official considered to be ‘crimes against his people’?
The final insult to your Palestinian ear comes at the end. The reporter mentions numerous Israeli airstrikes as being ‘responses’ to homemade rocket attacks from within Palestinian territory. The reporter claims (no word on the source of the claim) that twelve militants were killed, and adds very matter-of-factly that two civilians and two children were also killed. Well, at least we know no animals were harmed.
The dehumanization of the Palestinians and the reflexive siding with Israeli interests are nothing new in the U.S. media. It is a shame, while not surprising, to see such bias in public radio.
This is a good example of how the media do the heavy lifting of marginalizing the Palestinians. For more on how this is the rule and not the exception, buy this video (or borrow it from me).
It isn’t just the media, though, who are responsible for marginalizing Palestinians in our public discourse:
Now we’re left with a very important question. We know that Israel is granted impunity by both our government and our mass media. The question is why? We’ll get to that later.