U.S. Newspapers Push False Israeli Claims, Brush Over Palestinian Deaths in February
April 27 2023
blog Series: 

Editor's Note: This article is part of the Press on Palestine series, an initiative by Palestine Square. It includes selections from February 2023. Press on Palestine highlights bias in mainstream American reporting on Palestinian and Arab-Israeli affairs. 

     1. The New York Times, February 27, 2023
Revenge Attacks After Killing of Israeli Settlers Leave West Bank in Turmoil by Patrick Kingsley and Isabel Kershner 

The Israeli settler rampage that left hundreds of Palestinians injured, and their homes destroyed, is seen as violence experienced by both sides. This framework is woven throughout the article as an attempt to justify the brutal attacks by illegal settlers on Palestinians in their homes with the protection of the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF). Even when NYT acknowledges the disproportionate killing of Palestinians, they contextualize it as “gun battles,” — a label better-suited for video games — insinuating that the Palestinians who have been killed were implicated in their own deaths. Meanwhile, Israeli deaths are due to “Palestinian attacks.” For NYT reporters, Palestinians are the aggressors. 

NYT justifies the settlers' pogrom in Huwara as an act of revenge. This frame is concurrent; increased settler violence is revenge or reprisal — Palestinians are the culprits of their own suffering. Not once do we get insight into the Palestinians who have been murdered; Palestinian life remains a disembodied statistic. The Israeli position is made clear, repeatedly. 

The NYT acts oblivious regarding why tensions exist between the settlers of Har Bracha and the Palestinians living in nearby towns like Huwara. This framing makes the tension seem innate, rather than a direct result of stealing land and homes from Palestinians living nearby, whose families likely lived on the very land that is now occupied by settlers. By using language like “considerable expansion” — rather than land left, home demolition, and the forcible removal of Palestinians from their towns — the root of settler violence is obfuscated. Settler violence is framed as inevitable, unstoppable, something that the Israeli military has no control over, rather than a violent colonial tactic the apartheid regime has used since its creation. 

     2. The Washington Post, February 22, 2023
At least 11 Palestinians killed, 100 wounded in Israeli raid in West Bank by Miriam Berger and Shira Rubin

In this report, the IOF’s killing spree in the West Bank is simply a “counterterrorism” effort. Berger and Rubin do not question the validity of this false claim. There is a great deal of emphasis on the fact that this violence is escalating under a newly elected government, rather than a continuation of Israeli settler violence. 

WaPo reports that Israeli violence escalated after “a spate of deadly attacks inside Israel last spring.” In positioning Palestinians as the instigators of violence, the paper deliberately ignores the conditions of the illegal Occupation.The violent Israeli military raids that are mentioned follow an escalated effort to steal Palestinian homes and land throughout the West Bank. The raids are used to justify the demolishing of homes, allowing settlers — who are backed by the IOF —  to attack and harrass Palestinians. 

Towards the end of the article, WaPo acknowledges that all Israeli settlements are illegal under international law. The statement is brief and taken out of context. This makes it hard for unfamiliar readers to understand why settlements are such a core piece of understanding why so many Palestinians have been killed and detained by the IOF in the last year. If The Washington Post actually challenged the legitimacy of settlements, their insistence on misunderstanding Palestinian resistance could crack. 

     3. The Wall Street Journal, February 22, 2023 
At Least 11 Palestinians Dead in Shootout Between Israeli Forces and Militants by Dov Lieber and Aaron Boxerman

The killing of eleven Palestinians in Nablus is followed by a line about rockets that were fired from Gaza into Israel the following morning. The mention of the rockets feels forced and strange. It breaks up the story about the IOF raid in Nablus that murdered 11 people. The insertion of the story about the rockets appears to be an attempt to remind readers of the “threat” the apartheid state is under; justifying the brutality and senseless violence it has unleashed on Palestinians in the past months. 

According to the WSJ, Israel’s violence is simply an attempt “...to break up suspected militant cells and foil imminent attacks.” By hiding behind the infallible pretext of “counterterrorism,” the regime continues to kill, injure, and imprison Palestinians without any serious challenge from the media. 

There is no effort to understand the Palestinian position. Apparently, “Palestinian militancy” is an innate part of Palestinian identity, rather than a legitimate right to self-defense and self-determination against an occupying force made up of foreign soldiers and settlers.

Yet again, WSJ doubles down on the Israeli regime’s claim that the Palestinians they murder are violent, have participated in violence, or plan to.“Israel says the majority were engaged in violence, but at least some were bystanders, including a 16-year-old teenage girl in Jenin.” The article continues: “During the same time period, at least 11 Israelis have been killed by Palestinian attackers. ”The need to assert, over and over, that this is a both sides issue, with loss of life on “both sides,” is dizzying. The Wall Street Journal is sure to give us a thorough breakdown about the settlers who were killed — even discussing their careers — whereas a blameless Palestinian girl is brushed over. 

This framing plays out throughout these articles. Violence and Palestinian are linked repeatedly. When the immense loss of life is referenced, the publication is certain to inform readers about settler losses. The insistence on making the Occupation a “both sides” issue obfuscates the reality of the present situation, and makes it difficult to understand why there has been such a dramatic surge of violent raids, home demolitions, and overall brutality by Israeli forces against Palestinians. The impunity with which the IOF is able to assault Palestinians has set the stage for the recent incursion by armed, violent illegal settlers in the West Bank.

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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