The Media Coverage Of The Israeli-Palestinian Clash Is Built On Myths

The Media Coverage Of The Israeli-Palestinian Clash Is Built On Myths

Whether it's a loss of moral clarity or a cudgel against Donald Trump, when it comes to Israel and the Palestinians, the press is recklessly political.
David Harsanyi
By

No matter how often Hamas tells us that rioters on the Israel-Gaza border are armed, most of the media keeps referring to them as “protesters” and “demonstrators.” No matter how often Hamas acknowledges that rioters are part of a broader “war,” the media simply won’t report it as such. And no matter how often those rioters tell reporters they want to “kill” and “burn” Jews inside Israel, left-wing journalists and pundits still frame Israel as the aggressor.

Today, one senior Hamas official bragged that around 50 to 58 of those the Israeli Defense Forces killed at the Israel-Gaza border “were members of Hamas.” The terrorist group had already boasted that some of those killed were members of its armed wing. At least 24 of those killed during the riots Israel has identified as Hamas members — 11 of them members of the internal security apparatus. All of this is an amazing coincidence, considering how the media has been portraying the situation as a massacre of innocent civilians and children.

It’s almost certain that the IDF, which has a moral responsibility to stop tens of thousands of rioters from crossing their border and attacking its citizens, used the Hamas-instigated riots to pick off members of the terrorist organization. Hamas, of course, boasts about these deaths — which isn’t to say they don’t also lie about civilian causalities. If you’re going to embed armed commandos with civilian rioters, propagandize them, pay them, coerce them and send them towards military installations, you must hope they will die. But the Western defenders of Hamas — either fellow travelers or those who don’t understand the dynamics of the Middle East — won’t tell you that martyrdom is the point.

Instead, Hamas apologists continue claiming that Gaza is an open-air prison. This is only true if you consider people who lock themselves up prisoners. The controlling government, which took power in a violent coup against “moderates” after the Israelis gave Gaza semi-autonomy, won’t accept any international laws or any set of rules that would allow peaceful interaction with its neighbors. They are a proto-terror state. Iran, Israel’s enemy and a fully formed terror state, has continued to send arms to the “military wing” of Hamas.

Now, it’s true that this entity isn’t nearly as powerful or as advanced, economically or morally, as its neighbors, but neither is al-Qaeda or ISIS as advanced as the United States. No one would frame either of those groups as the victims. The idea that Israel, and Israel alone, should afford their enemies free reign over a territory does not comport with the practice or ideals of any other free nation in the world. Although it’s rarely mentioned, Egypt has also closed its border with the Palestinians for the better part of a decade, not only because Hamas is funded by Iran, but also because it is aligned with other groups that would like to see a more theocratic regime in their country.

The other myth driving the coverage of the Gaza riots is to blame the violence on the opening of the United States embassy in the western part of Jerusalem. No person with even a rudimentary understanding the history of this situation could possibly believe the move is anything but an ostensible reason for rioting.

The precursor to Fatah, the Palestinian Liberation Organization, was formed before the 1967 unification of the Jewish capital. There’s never been a single Palestinian leader who has conceded that Israel should have sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem. Hamas itself doesn’t recognize the American embassy in Tel Aviv. It doesn’t recognize Israeli sovereignty over any territory.

Then again, Palestinians have never defaulted to moderation on the status of Jerusalem or anything else. Their far-flung fantasies regarding the right to return (itself hitched to a historical myth) and a Palestinian Jerusalem still consume them. This is what stands in the way of an agreement. The fact is that the moderate PLO invented modern terrorism. It, and other Palestinian terror groups, embraced suicide bombings and human shields. Fatah, the moderate Holocaust-denying wing of Palestinian governance, still has a martyrs’ fund that pays cash stipends to the families of those killed or imprisoned for carrying out terrorist attacks against Jews. Thanks to the help of international funds, they have been able to make those payments increasingly generous over the years.

Now imagine what the “extremist” wing of that movement looks like. The Hamas riots are not driven by economic destitution. They are driven by frustration. Hamas attempts at suicide bombing have been thwarted. Its attempts to fire missiles into Israel have been stymied by a defense system. If this is was about food and shelter, the Palestinian rioters would be headed to the government building in Gaza City. It’s getting boring repeating this, but Israel has shown over and over again it is willing to make peace with anyone who desires it. The Palestinians will also have peace as soon as they embrace it.

The fact that Hamas is willing to sacrifice their lives (and the lives of their citizens) doesn’t mean they aren’t the instigators or the guilty party. There’s an obsession in the media about the disproportionate number of Palestinians who die in these conflicts. Some can’t escape the hackneyed oppressor-oppressed template. Others allow their obsession with Donald Trump to cloud their morals. The fact is that if Hamas dropped its claim on Israel proper, and stopped using every opening provided to them to instigate violence, not a single person would ever have to die again in this war.

 

David Harsanyi is a Senior Editor at The Federalist. He is the author of the forthcoming book, First Freedom: A Ride Through America's Enduring History with the Gun, From the Revolution to Today. Follow him on Twitter.

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