The Disproportionate Coverage of Israeli And
By Media Lens
July 03, 2014 "ICH"
Israeli deaths matter much more than Palestinian
deaths. This has long been
a distinguishing feature of Western news media
reporting on the Middle East. The recent blanket
coverage afforded to the brutal killing of three
Israeli teenagers highlights this immutable fact.
offered a rare glimmer of dissent:
'Curious to watch UK media living down to the
Palestinian claim that 1 Israeli life is worth
1000 Palestinian lives.'
broadcasters, such as BBC News, devoted headlines
and extended reports to the deaths, and included
heart-rending interviews with grieving relatives in
Israel. The Guardian ran
live coverage of the funerals for more than nine
hours. But when has this ever happened for
Palestinian victims of Israeli terror?
challenged the Guardian journalist leading the
Did I somehow miss @guardian's live-tweeting of
Palestinian victims' funerals & eulogies?'
nudges elicited the standard display of
not an editor so don't take decisions on future
extensive list of news stories and video reports
appeared on the BBC website describing how Israel is
'united in grief', alongside stories titled,
'Netanyahu: "Wide and deep chasm" between Israel and
'Thousands gather for Israeli teenagers' funerals',
'Grief and anger after Israel teenager deaths',
'On road where teens vanished'.
strongly, and rightly, expressed the broadcaster's
empathy with the fact that something terrible had
happened. But when has the BBC ever expressed this
level of concern for the deaths of Palestinian
teenagers? The question matters because consistent
empathic bias has the effect of humanising Israelis
for the public and dehumanising Palestinians. This
is an extremely lethal form of media propaganda with
real consequences for human suffering.
noted that the killings 'had shocked [Israel] to
the core'. Western leaders had also expressed
solidarity - an outpouring of concern that
contrasted with the reaction to Palestinian deaths,
which 'so often pass with barely a murmur'. But that
was all the Guardian editors had to say.
missing, ugly reality is that over the last 13
years, on average, one Palestinian child has
been killed by Israel every 3 days. Since the
outbreak of the second Intifada in September 2000,
1,523 Palestinian children have been killed by
Israel's occupation forces. Over the same time
period, 129 Israeli children have been killed. Thus,
the ratio of Palestinian children to Israeli
children killed is more than ten to one. You would
be forgiven for not having the slightest inkling of
this from Western media coverage. Even in the past
few days, in reporting the massive Israeli operation
to find the teenagers, only the
briefest of nods has been given to the 'five
Palestinians, including a number of minors, [who
were] killed' in the process.
the tragic discovery of the bodies of the three
Israeli teenagers, corporate journalism gave
headline attention to President Obama's
condemnation of 'this senseless act of terror
against innocent youth'. Significant coverage was
given to the shocked reaction of prime minister
David Cameron who
was an appalling and inexcusable act of terror
perpetrated against young teenagers. Britain
will stand with Israel as it seeks to bring to
justice those responsible.'
have Obama or Cameron ever condemned the killing of
Palestinian youths or children by Israelis in this
easily see the contrast in media treatment of
Israeli and Palestinian deaths by observing the lack
of coverage, and the silence of Western leaders,
about two young Palestinians, Nadim Nuwara, 17, and
Muhammad Abu al-Thahir, 16, who were shot dead by
Israeli security forces in May. The BBC did not
entirely ignore the killings. But the deaths were
presented as a murky event in which the truth
was strongly disputed:
human rights group has released a video it
says shows two teenage Palestinians being
shot dead by Israeli security forces at a
protest last week.' (Our emphasis.)
report was quick to present the Israeli viewpoint
the Israeli military said the video had been
edited and did not document the "violent nature"
of the incident.
also questioned a claim that live ammunition had
been fired at the boys.'
A few days
later, the Israeli military
ordered the removal of the CCTV cameras that had
captured the killings. The security cameras belonged
to Fakher Sayed who ran a nearby carpentry shop. And
the interest in this from BBC News and the rest of
the corporate media? Zero, as far as we can tell.
violent death is a tragedy. But the disproportionate
coverage given to Israeli and Palestinian deaths is
symptomatic of a deep-rooted, pro-Israel bias. Why
is it so extreme? Because of the intense pressure
brought to bear on the media by the powerful Israeli
lobby, and by allied US-UK interests strongly
favouring Israel. As one senior anonymous BBC editor
wait in fear for the phone call from the
The goal of
Media Lens is to promote rationality, compassion and
respect for others. If you do write to journalists,
we strongly urge you to maintain a polite,
non-aggressive and non-abusive tone.
consider signing this petition set up at Change.org
by activist Mark Nadim:
1,500 Palestinian Children Killed by Israeli 'Defence'
Force since 2000, and Restraint and Peacemaking
rather than Condoning 'Inevitable' Collective Death
Royall, editor of BBC News at Ten, and BBC News at
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