In the ongoing Gaza-Israel conflict, it has become increasingly difficult for Palestinian civilians to have their experiences accurately represented in Western media. The bias and double-standards displayed by outlets such as the BBC and CNN have only worsened the situation. The Western corporate and state-funded broadcast media rarely take a balanced and neutral approach when reporting on the war. Simply questioning Israel’s indiscriminate bombing of residential areas and obstruction of humanitarian aid is being treated as mutiny, while calls for a ceasefire are labeled as radical and unacceptable.
One journalist, Wafa al-Udaini, has experienced firsthand the uphill battle Palestinians face in trying to convey their side of the story. Al-Udaini was invited to speak on Talk TV, which airs Piers Morgan’s show. Prior to her appearance, the host, Julia Hartley-Brewer, had invited an Israeli military spokesperson to discuss the conflict. During this discussion, the spokesperson made numerous unsubstantiated allegations that went unchallenged by the host. However, when al-Udaini came on, every question was phrased in a way to discredit her. Hartley-Brewer continuously interrupted her and demanded immediate and direct responses. After cutting off al-Udaini and ending the interview, the host said they didn’t have much time.
Al-Udaini, a reporter on the ground in Gaza, had witnessed the horrifying bloodshed and lost a colleague in the conflict. She felt insulted and upset by the interview, as she was not given the opportunity to tell her side of the story. She had to defend her use of the word “massacre” when describing civilian deaths, a word the host herself had used to describe the Hamas attack on Israel.
Another Palestinian journalist, who wished to remain anonymous for security reasons, spoke about covering wars in the Gaza Strip. They mentioned seeing non-stop ambulances carrying dead civilians, emphasizing that they rarely saw military personnel killed. When faced with such a devastating reality, the journalist could not describe it as anything other than a massacre. They questioned why they would leave their home, their homeland, when asked to do so, just to be safe. The host insinuated that they were putting themselves and their family at risk by staying, putting some responsibility on them if their home was bombed.
The interview gained attention in Israeli media, which used it as evidence that Palestinian journalists could not answer questions about what the Israeli military should do to them. This led to agents working for the Israeli state calling al-Udaini’s home, pretending to be part of international organizations and requesting personal information. This has made her cautious about what she says over the phone.
The double-standards and lack of empathy in Western media’s approach to the conflict are clear. If an Israeli who had suffered threats from Hamas, lost family and friends, or had rockets fall near their home were asked if they condemned the Israeli military, it would be seen as biased. However, when the same line of questioning is directed towards Palestinians, it is treated as the norm. This demonstrates a dehumanization of the Palestinian perspective.
In conclusion, Palestinians face an uphill battle when trying to represent their experiences in Western media. Their stories are often distorted or disregarded. The bias and double-standards displayed by Western media outlets not only perpetuate the conflict but also dehumanize the Palestinian people. It is crucial for a balanced and empathetic approach to be taken in order to address the complexities of the Gaza-Israel war.