Media acts as Weapon of Mass-Distraction in Israel-Hamas conflict

israel fire at hamas

May 20, 2021

Commentary, Op-Ed 

For 11 nights in a row, Israeli citizens have fled to bomb shelters as the heat of the Hamas incursion knows no boundaries. Evacuation orders have been ignored in favor of putting pressure on media narratives. This was confirmed by an evacuation call between the Israel Defense Forces and the residents of a building in Gaza. Worldwide media, such as SkyNews, continued with a heated rhetoric campaign against the rights of Israel as a state, publishing completely fabricated reports. 

In the case of Sky News, a story was published that alleged the Israel Defense Forces were deliberately blocking humanitarian aid into Gaza. This came following reports from the Israel Defense Forces’ official Twitter account on May 18 and 19 that stated the IDF had sent two humanitarian aid missions that were cut off by mortar fire. The IDF opened a humanitarian corridor in Erez Crossing on May 18 and another humanitarian corridor in Kerem Shalom Crossing on May 19. Both attempts at opening an economic corridor were met with mortar rounds from Hamas within. The media campaign shaped a heated public response to the human rights allegations against the Jewish state. 

Sky News was met by a myriad of media outlets worldwide weighing in on the decades-old Israel-Hamas conflict. Among other propaganda contributors were CGTN media out of China. 

An anchorman at the CGTN network drew an equivalency between “wealthy Jews” and “Jewish lobbyists” in the United States and the U.S. support for Israel. The network inferred that the relationship between the U.S. and Israel was built on bribes. The Israeli Foreign Minister demanded that CGTN take down the video citing “blatant antisemitism.” 

This has followed a rash of heated antisemitic attacks around the world. Celebrities, such as Gal Gadot and Rhianna, were met with severe backlash on social media after they posted statements of solidarity with Israel over the recent rash of attacks. The Eurovision contests in Europe were surrounded by pro-Palestinian protesters when the Israel contestant prepared to perform.  

Since the repatriation of the Jewish state, the United States and Israel have enjoyed healthy diplomatic relations as well as security cooperations against radical militant groups who use the region as the channels of their proxy network. The proxy network is controlled by the radical Iranian regime. Hamas is a member of this network, sponsored and mentored by Lebanese Hezbollah. Lebanese Hezbollah is a direct benefactor of the Islamic Republic.  

The media now serves as a weapon of mass distraction against the ground reality of the status of the Israel-Hamas conflict. On May 20, it was reported that the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had confirmed, to German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, an attack made by an Iranian armed drone on the sidelines of the immediate conflict. The Israeli Prime Minister called this evidence of the Iranian“sponsorship” of the current conflict in Israel. This sponsorship was made possible after the Biden administration walked back many of the U.S. policies that were established against the radical Islamic Republic during the Trump administration. 

Israel has drawn intensifying heat from the world press associations after targeting terrorist elements in the Al-Jalaa tower in Gaza. The IDF forces stated that the Al-Jalaa tower housed elements of Hamas and radical extremists, a fact Hamas denied. The Hamas militants have used civilian infrastructure to establish their bases, including digging “the Metro,”a series of tunnels used to launch attacks on Israel, under civilian houses. The Metro has been mostly neutralized within the span of five days, the IDF stated on May 19. 

Targeting the Al-Jalaa tower drew criticism because it also housed the bureau offices of the Associated Press and Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera is a media outlet controlled by the Qatar-state and has been ordered by the United States to register its American outlet AJ+ as a Foreign Agent. 

The Arabic-language Al Jazeera has been accused of pressing narratives in support of ISIS and other radical extremism. Despite these facts, there was a cry of outrage in the Western progressive public over the destruction of the Al-Jalaa tower. The Western progressive public questioned whether the West could legally cooperate with Israel after it “targeted the press.” 

Western press’ distracted outlook has served to cover incitements to violence made by pro-Palestine activists in Arabic. The Arabic bridge translation outlet MEMRI, based in the United States, recaptured  broadcasts of pro-Palestinian liberation movements calls to rage and riot as the conflict continued. Palestinian activists delivered rousing speeches captured by MEMRI network educating would-be jihadists on what knives to purchase and which artery to cut to “behead” the Jews. 

The Western press has failed to give credit to research institutions such as MEMRI. This internal rhetoric-driven distraction of the Western press contributes to the weaponization of media that the Hamas and other Iranian-proxy agents have used for their support.

In 2002, for example, The Guardian published an article which called MEMRI “selective” for publishing an article in Arabic that explained how Saddam Hussein “had personally given orders to amputate the ears of military deserters.” The author noted that, if the note he received with the translations from Memri came from a senior colleague, he’d been inclined to report on the information he was receiving. However, the article denotes the bent of the Western press to screen the reports it is sent if they cast jihadists in a negative light or if the reports they translate serve “the political agenda of Israel.” 

The second thing that makes me uneasy is that the stories selected by Memri for translation follow a familiar pattern: either they reflect badly on the character of Arabs or they in some way further the political agenda of Israel. I am not alone in this unease,” wrote Brian Whitaker at The Guardian in 2002. In the years to come, the Western media would show that this collective discomfort regarding media reports from the Arabic-speaking nations that depicted negative aspects of extremism would grow to an intense aversion. This aversion has served the use of the Western press as a weapon of mass distraction from the critical issues and ground realities of the conflict between Iranian proxy terrorism and those who are anti-extremism in the Gulf. Israel, by necessity of survival, is the primary voice of anti-Islamist extremism in the region. 

If the media were, as it claims to be, in favor of exposing human rights abuses in the Middle East, it would take into account the value of the vastly different narrative that appears in Arabic media. It would seek to translate all sources, regardless of preference, and develop a well-rounded portrayal of the many voices influencing Hamas into action and spurring youths to join its toxic and self-destructive movement. 

This weaponization of the press’ political leanings, which is at best a distraction, has had real-ground political consequences. Jews all over the world were subjected to antisemitic attacks, with an attack at a restaurant in Los Angeles, California and a street brawl in New York highlighting that list. Rallying calls for jihad took to the streets of Britain as, all over the world, radicals were emboldened by the narrative that has no real consequences because of the problematic political ground world governments now tread, with the world press holding them over a barrel. 

Rachel Brooks is an editor at New African Living Standard and Contributor at American Pigeon 

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