Racist Language, Obscuring Palestinian Deaths Top Headlines in November
January 22 2023
blog Series: 
  1. 1. The New York Times – November 23, 2022

2 Bomb Attacks in Jerusalem Kill 1 and Wound at Least 18 by Patrick Kingsley and Isabel Kershner 

In their co-written article, Kingsley and Kershner go to great lengths to detail the deaths of Israelis while obscuring the deaths of Palestinians. 

The article offers readers a recount of the explosion and the origins of the victims. When they finally address the Palestinian loss of life, they do so in merely two sentences: noting that the violence was equally sustained, without revealing details about the Palestinian who was killed or their background. Whereas Israeli victims are given extensive backstories, and their family members are provided with space to speak about what they experienced, Palestinian victims are kept voiceless by the authors. 

This is followed by an image of Palestinian mourners carrying the body of a Palestinian teenager murdered by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF). The victim, Ahmed Shehada, is only named in the image caption, not in the article. By showing readers an image of Palestinian men participating in a funeral service — with zero context for their mourning practice or grief — Kingsley and Kershner attempt to depict Palestinians as angry “militants” rather than acknowledging that they are bereaved people who are publicly mourning. 

Kingsley and Kershner emphasize that this bombing is the first attack on Israeli civilians in over six years (they mention this multiple times) without addressing the massive increase in violence by IOF and illegal settlers on Palestinian civilians in 2022 alone. When the violence and deaths of Palestinians are finally mentioned, it is done so in a way that attempts to justify the Israeli regime’s criminality. In the eyes of Kingsley and Kershner, the rise in violence begins with Palestinians as the initial agitators and the Israeli military and settlers as victims reacting in self-defense. But the racist implications are revealed here when Palestinians are referred to as “Arab assailants.” This solidifies the stereotype of the angry and innately violent Arab that NYT relies upon to propagate the myth of Palestinian aggression and Israeli victimization. “Palestinian anger” is mentioned multiple times, once more decontextualizing the resistance of people being occupied by a brutalizing force. 

  1. 2. The Washington Post – November 15th, 2022 

Palestinian kills three Israelis outside settlement in escalating violence by Shira Rubin

In her article for The Washington Post, Shira Rubin covers the stabbing and killing of three Israelis by a Palestinian teenager. In a time when extrajudicial killings of Palestinians by the IOF are ceaseless, situating this stabbing as justification for an “Israeli crackdown against Palestinians” is irresponsible and abhorrent reporting. 

Although Rubin acknowledges that 2022 is set to be the deadliest year for Palestinians, she examines the violence from the lens of the criminal IOF, falsely attributing the majority of Palestinians killed as being connected to terrorist attacks. Not only does this erase the hundreds of innocent Palestinians who are murdered yearly by the Israeli regime, it further justifies propaganda about Israeli state-sanctioned killing being justified under the guise of “fighting terrorism.”

By making this claim, Palestinian death is rationalized as a necessary consequence of Israeli self-defense. Interestingly, this narrative does not work in reverse: no matter the loss of life or brutality sustained by Palestinians at the hands of the IOF and illegal settlers daily, retaliation is always held in contempt. 

3. The Wall Street Journal – November 15th, 2022
Palestinian Kills Three Israelis, Injures Others in West Bank Attack by Dov Lieber 

Dov Lieber writes about the details of the attack before addressing the escalation of violence by Israeli forces in the West Bank. Lieber also mirrors The Washington Post by asserting that most Palestinians killed were militants engaged in “violent battles with [Israeli] soldiers.”  

Lieber claims that there is a correlation between the “growing violence” and the decline in the Palestinian Authority’s popularity amongst Palestinians. This is followed by a statement from a former prime minister that Israel is actively fighting “extensive terrorist structures.” By implicitly linking Palestinian militancy and terrorism, Lieber reinforces the idea that Israeli violence against Palestinians is a legitimate effort to defend and protect the “Israeli state.” By targeting the Palestinian Authority, Lieber attempts to shift blame for a 75-year-long military occupation to other Palestinians. 

4. The Wall Street Journal –⁠ November 29th, 2022
Israel Moves Troubled Military Unit Out of West Bank by Dion Nissenbaum, Aaron Boxerman, Fatima Abdulkarim

Nissenbaum, Boxerman, and Abdulkarim write about an ultraorthodox military unit — Netzah Yehuda — that has recently been removed from the West Bank due to its violence against Palestinians and anti-Occupation Israeli activists. 

Interestingly, instead of using words such as brutal, cruel, or violent, WSJ refers to this extremely violent unit as “troubled.” A deliberate word choice that obscures the reality of what is at stake. Troubled is a word used to describe a young person experiencing difficulty in school. Troubled is a word that could explain the emotional outbursts of a teenager. Troubled is not the appropriate word to describe a military unit engaged in casual brutality against the people it is occupying and massacring. 

What this also implies is that excessive violence in Israeli military units is the exception in the IOF and not the norm. The move to remove the unit has more to do with the Israeli regime crafting its public image, rather than with any concern about Palestinians being robbed, beaten, tortured, detained, or shot at by young IOF thugs. 

Interestingly, none of these articles offer up a single Palestinian voice. Desperate to protect the apartheid state, the pro-Israel WSJ refuses to acknowledge that Palestinians can have any insight into the force that occupies, polices, and controls Palestinian life. This clear bias in reporting speaks to the dehumanization of Palestinians that is intended by WSJ executives and Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation as a whole. 

About The Author: 

Sarah O'Neal is a poet, organizer, and writer from the Bay Area. Her work is informed by interests in mourning rituals, queer Muslim poetics, and Black liberation. You can find her on twitter @atayqueen or at www.sarahadbiboneal.com

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