On July 18, 2005 14 year old Ragheb al-Masri sat in the back of a taxi
with his parents at the Abo Holi checkpoint. An Israeli bullet penetrated his
back and cracked open his chest. His mother screamed as his body lay lifeless.
Have you heard his name? I wouldn't expect that you have because CNN, The New
York Times, and The Washington Post didn't report the killing online. If they
had quoted his parents, their readers would have been able to feel their tears
and envision the heartbreak. Ultimately, no Israeli soldier was arrested or
Every time a suicide bombing strikes Israel, mass coverage of the tragedy
begins instantly. Whether landing on the front page of The New York Times or
taking up the headline block on CNN.com, the pain Israeli people endure is shown
endlessly. Israelis do suffer. Suicide bombings are horrific. Nevertheless,
Palestinian pain occurs far more frequently, and yet often overlooked by the
mainstream American media.
Since the uprising in September of 2000, more than 3800 Palestinians have been
killed in the Occupied Territories as a result of the conflict. Most Americans
are unaware of the toll because it is not properly reported. In 2004, If Americans
Knew—an American organization that exposes and examines the facts of the
Israeli/Palestinian conflict—reported that 808 Palestinian conflict deaths
occurred while 107 Israelis conflict deaths occurred. The study, however,
found that The New York Times covered Israeli deaths in the headline or the
first paragraph in 159 articles—meaning in some cases they covered the
same death numerous times. In contrast, The New York Times only covered about
40 percent of Palestinian deaths—334 of 808—in the headline or in
the first paragraph of the articles. Nearly eight Palestinians died for every
one Israeli. Disturbingly The New York Times is considered the quintessential
"liberal" newspaper of the US.
When Palestinian deaths occur, especially militant deaths, the Israeli
Government's version of the story is taken as fact in the mainstream US media.
In most cases, articles covering the death of Palestinians only include large
Israeli quotes, without citing Palestinian witnesses and other credible nongovernmental
organization sources. This continues to be the case after human rights groups
have released reports stating Israel has indiscriminately shot at civilians,
even using them as human shields. In as early as 2001, Amnesty International
(AI) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) stated, "At least 470 Palestinians have
been killed, most of them unlawfully by Israeli security forces when their lives
[Israeli Security Forces] and the lives of others were not in danger."
Since the AI/HRW report, more than 3350 Palestinians have been killed. It is
remarkable how so many can accept Israeli Government as the sole, objective
source when it forcibly occupies the Palestinian territories.
On August 25, 2005 the headline on CNN.com read, "Israel: Five Militants
Shot in Raid." The article claims the militants were suspected of being
involved with a suicide bombing; they were armed and exchanged fire with the
Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF), and five Palestinians were shot. The report
also mentions the town Netanya, where the suicide bombing referenced in the
article took place, was a frequent sight for suicide bombings. No Palestinian
quote, no witnesses giving an alternative perspective, and no mention that three
of the victims shot were under the age of 18.
The Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, covered the same event including Palestinian
quotes and some Palestinian claims. The paper reported that the IOF killed five
Palestinians on August 25, three of whom Palestinian sources claim to be between
the ages of 14 and 17 with no known links to militant organizations. Four of
the victims died at the scene, while one of the young victims died later that
Varying Palestinian reporters cited witnesses claiming all five Palestinians
were unarmed, including the two militants killed. This was the first fatal attack
since the "disengagement" of the Gaza Strip.
The contrast in coverage between CNN and Haaretz is staggering. The CNN headline
was written in absolutes: "5 militants shot in raid." The CNN article
continues by stating only the Israeli claim that five militants were killed,
making the headline biased and misleading. The Haaretz headline read: "U.S.
urges restraint after IDF raid that killed 5 Palestinians." This headline
refers to the people who were shot as Palestinians and not solely militants.
The Haaretz article covers conflicting Israeli and Palestinian claims, which
made it impossible to determine whether or not all five killed were militants
On September 7 the findings of a probe, conducted by Haaretz and the Israeli
human rights group B'Tselem, found that three of the five Palestinians killed
in the assault on August 25 were under the age of 18 and did not have any links
to known terrorist organizations. Their investigation also found that the two
militants killed were low ranking operatives who were not armed at the time.
This repudiates the Israeli claim that IOF soldiers were in the area involved
in an operation against militant leaders and a "ticking bomb" with
connection to suicide bombings in Israel.
"Ticking bombs" are characterized as individuals that are an imminent
physical threat to the state of Israel or people holding information that imminently
threaten the security of the state of Israel. In most cases, "ticking bombs"
are referred to as would be suicide bombers or those holding valuable information
on individuals carrying out a suicide bombing. Israel used the "ticking
bomb" scenario in the past as an excuse to torture Palestinians with impunity.
In a 1998 study on the "ticking bomb" scenario, B'Tselem found Israel's
claim that it is necessary to use torture against "ticking bombs"
was in most cases "totally unsubstantiated." The recent findings of
Haaretz and B'Tselem deeply call into question the reliability of the state
of Israel on affairs in the Occupied Territories and reaffirm the notion that
using Israel as the sole source is careless and unacceptable.
Israel professes it doesn't have the death penalty, but it has in the past
and "maintains the right" in the future, to carry out extrajudicial
assassinations of "wanted" Palestinians. Israeli Defense Minister
Shaul Mofaz admitted on August 26 that Israel invaded and fired first in the
incident that killed five Palestinians, while maintaining the notion that the
militants—meaning all five killed—were armed. Again, Israel, the
occupying force, reserves the "right" to play God with the lives of
the Palestinian people. There are many examples of unarmed children and disabled
Palestinians being injured or killed by Israeli forces. More than 875 women
and children have died since the start of the conflict under the guise of security.
Nearly 25 percent of the children killed were under the age of 12.
Coincidence or Collusion?
Why are "left wing" media outlets such as The New York Times
and CNN not reporting the Palestinian side of the story? Well the simple answer
is The New York Times and CNN are not liberal, nor honest. They cover
injustices only when there is no risk of backlash from readers and advertisers.
The media moguls are only "aware" and objective when it pays them
to be. CNN and the New York Times must vet their content, so as not to be viewed
as "pro-Palestinian," in fear that advertisers will pull their ads
or commercials, leading to a loss in revenue.
Israel solidified itself as the strategic ally of the US in the Middle East
after its victory in the Six Day War (1967 Arab/Israeli War). Israel was taken
under the wing of the US—which saw its potential as a strategic, military,
and political force.
The rise of religious Zionism after 1967 and the subsequent call for the preservation
of the Jewish homeland became relevant in America with the Jewish elite as well
with Christian conservatives. Jewish historian, Norman Finkelstein, recalls
in his book The Holocaust Industry,
Accordingly, American Jewish elites suddenly discovered Israel. After the 1967
war, Israel's military élan could be celebrated because its guns point
in the right direction—against America's enemies.
Finkelstein continued to state, "Now they [The Jewish elite] could pose
as the natural interlocutors for America's newest strategic asset. From bit
players, they could advance to top billing in the Cold War drama. Thus for American
Jewry, as well as the United States, Israel became a strategic asset."
As the years progressed, Israel claimed victory in the 1973 Ramadan War (Yom
Kippur War) with the defining help of America. The mounting support for Israel
as a war victor, a "democracy," and a capitalistic society settled
well with Americans.
38 years after the Six-Day war, America sees an even stronger military and
political ally in Israel, and the pro-Israeli lobby has made sure that the sense
of Jewish victimization has never faltered. Finkelstein comments, "Organized
Jewry has exploited the Nazi holocaust to deflect criticism of Israel and its
own morally indefensible policies."
The effectiveness of the pro-Israeli lobby hinges on the willingness of the
US government to support Israel. According to the strongly pro-Israeli website
the Jewish Virtual Library, the US has given Israel nearly 50 billion dollars
in aid from 1974 to 1997. If the US government didn't have significant interests
in backing Israel, the pro-Israeli lobby would be less of a factor much like
the Palestinian lobby. Interestingly, the Jewish Lobby only supported Israel
when it was in their interests to do so. Finkelstein notes, "The Holocaust
industry sprung up only after Israel's overwhelming display of military dominance
and flourished amid extreme Israeli triumphalism."
The convergence of American and Israeli support found success in delegitimizing
the Palestinian cause. This consequently washed Israel's hands clean in US eyes
of the atrocities committed throughout the Middle East—i.e. the invasion
and indiscriminate bombing of Beirut in 1982—and more directly to the
Palestinian people through dispossession and occupation. Strikingly, the American
media refuses to differentiate between the past suffering of the Jewish people
and the suffering Israelis endure due to inept Israeli policy which has besieged
the Palestinian people for 58 years.
Consider the backlash professors at Colombia received because they were accused
of promoting anti-Semitism. In reality Joseph Massad, one of the accused professors,
and others simply critiqued the Israeli government. As a result, pro-Israeli
groups like the David Project and Campus Watch tried to silence their right
to free speech. Just as questioning the war in Iraq is "un-American,"
the idea of questioning Israeli actions is "anti-Semitic." Ridiculous
assertions such as equating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism is a way in which
the pro-Israeli lobby restricts the media from criticizing Israel or fairly
In a post-9/11 world, it has been much easier to side with mostly European Israelis,
who look more like Americans, who love capitalism like Americans, and who are
fighting "Arab terror" like Americans. Unfortunately for the Palestinians,
the media doesn't like to diverge from mainstream political correctness. If
objectivity was the top priority of the media, they would not have dropped the
ball in the coverage leading up to the war in Iraq. Even Bob Woodward of the
"liberal" Washington Post admitted, "We did our job but we didn't
do enough, and I blame myself mightily for not pushing harder."
The media are corporate sponsored outlets that feed into the majority support
at a time when the Palestinian lobby is virtually non-existent in America. The
"biblical rights" of Jews and their suffering the Holocaust are exploited
to reassert the status of victimization. Pro-Israeli advocates incorporate the
notion that the Arabs are trying to "drive the Jews to the sea."
But who would really push the American/Israeli agenda, besides those fearing
backlash? The neoconservatives and Christian coalitions in support for Israel.
The Pat Robertsons and the Billy Grahams. Neoconservative talk radio hosts Rush
Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. Best selling authors Alan Dershowitz and Thomas Friedman.
Lobbying groups like AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) and the
ADL (Anti-Defamation League), and attack dogs such as Daniel Pipes and his cronies
in Campus Watch. The fortune 500 companies such as Caterpillar, McDonalds, Disney
and Starbucks to name a few. But most damningly, it's the "liberals,"
that complete the majority support. Hilary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi, the honest
broker himself Bill Clinton, the heads of The New York Times, CNN and the rest
of the "left wing" media that won't stand up for what's morally right.
These people are too selfish or too weak to do what's right, and off with the
heads of those who do.
The dilemma of the "free press" in America is that it isn't free.
The media hinges on the support of the people, newspaper subscriptions, television
viewership, advertisements, and the bottom line of their companies. We live
in a capitalistic society run by corporate profits and essential year over year
I understand why The New York Times and CNN reports the way it does. They are
media hacks run by the corporate dollar. Injustice is injustice. Murder is murder.
While Palestinian suffering goes on unreported children like Ragheb Al-Masri
remain dead and forgotten, and the American press remains biased and forgiven.
Remi Kanazi is the primary writer for the political website
lives in New York City as a Palestinian American freelance writer and can reached
via email at email@example.com