by: David Harris-Gershon on September 21st, 2013 | 13 Comments »
On Friday, Israeli soldiers threw sound grenades at a group of European diplomats trying to deliver emergency aid in the occupied territories, pulled a French diplomat, Marion Castaing, from a truck and threw her upon the ground. The image below, of Israeli border police surrounding Castaing as she lay on her back, was taken by a human rights activist as other journalists, including those from Reuters, looked on.
This image, and others like it, received attention yesterday across the world, principally because the force used by Israeli soldiers was against a group of diplomats from France, Britain, Spain, Ireland, Australia and the European Union’s political office. It’s the type of force that is used against Palestinians on a daily basis.
However, while outlets such as the BBC, AFP, and Israel’s Haaretz carried full stories which included photos like the one above, not a single mainstream American outlet did so. In fact, even outlets that used the Reuters wire report, which included an image similar to the one above, choose not to display such an image in their reports. This includes The New York Times, which carried an abbreviated summary of the story under the title, “Israeli Soldiers Quarrel with Diplomats,” in contrast to the Reuters headline, “Israeli forces manhandle EU diplomats, seize West Bank aid.”
One of the reasons American public opinion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is so different from much of the world is due to Americans’ extreme ignorance – an ignorance fueled partially by mainstream U.S. outlets’ refusal to cover both sides of the conflict, to show the suffering Israel’s occupation visits upon Palestinians.
I’ve experienced this reticence personally with regard to my book, which is about my reconciliation with the Palestinian family of the bomber who injured my wife. While European broadcast media, including BBC radio and television, Sky News, as well as Irish and Scottish media, have covered my story, not a single U.S. outlet has done so save PRI’s The World, which is co-produced by the BBC. Why? Much of the American media establishment generally does not find the Israeli-Palestinian dynamic newsworthy unless there is violence involved, especially if that violence, in a wildly asymmetrical conflict, is perpetrated by Palestinians (who the MSM often uses as caricatures of evil).
In order for U.S. policies in the Middle East to change, public opinion will need shift. The American electorate will need to demand that the U.S. wield its incredible influence and compel Israel to step away from its destructive geo-political stances, such as the settlement enterprise and the occupation.
However, if the electorate remains ignorant of what is occurring in the occupied territories – of the military rule, indefinite detentions, home demolitions, suppression of basic civil rights and brutal force – nothing will change regarding American policy.
Democracy cannot truly function if an electorate is kept ignorant, as NSA revelations starkly revealed. And right now, regarding American foreign policy with regard to Israel and Palestine, democracy is not functioning.
And mainstream American media outlets are partially to blame.
David Harris-Gershon is author of the memoir What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?, now out from Oneworld Publications. Follow him on Twitter @David_EHG.