What do these eight headlines about the latest Israel/Palestine clashes have in common?

April 7, 2023 • 9:15 am

In the past few days the conflagration between Palestine and Israel has grown hotter. Yesterday, in response to rocket attacks from Lebanon and Gaza, certainly launched by Hamas and probably Hezbollah as well, the Israelis retaliated by striking terrorist targets.  When I read the first headline below in the NYT this morning, I found it strange, as “Israel” is mentioned first as striking Lebanon, and only then do you hear that Israel’s strikes were in response to terrorist rocket attacks. Wouldn’t it seem more objective to say that rockets were launched from Gaza and Lebanon, and then note that Israel retaliated? But that’s almost never the way it’s reported. I collected a series of headlines from the mainstream media to demonstrate this.

New York Times:


That “subtle” inversion in the headline seems to place the blame on Israel by mentioning it first.

And then I decided to look up similar articles in the MSM I usually read. Sure enough, Israel was always mentioned first. Here are some examples. (Click all headlines to go to article.) I am not leaving out any headlines I looked up.



Associated Press:


Below: from the Washington Post (they don’t mention in the article that the “two killed” were Israeli civilians—two Israeli sisters in their twenties; their mother will probably die as well—killed by Palestinian terrorists in a gun attack on a car. Had the two killed been Palestinians, you bet that this would have been in the headline.

I’ll add that while the targets of Israeli responses are always military (terrorist tunnels, rocket-building facilities, rocket-launching sites, terrorist training camps), Palestinian and Hezbollah terrorists deliberately target civilians. Note as well that when striking either civilian areas or training camps (to avoid killing young trainees not yet terrorists), Israel gives advance warning of the strikes to avoid killing non-terrorists and to damage only infrastructure.  Hamas, of course, never warns when they fire rockets, for their aim is to kill as many Israeli civilians as possible.

Finally, note that the Israeli army has the lowest rate of civilian deaths during military operations in the world: 92.5% of Palestinians killed by Israel this year were members of terror groups or were actively involved in terror attacks (74/80 in 2023). Contrast this with the rate of Israeli civilian deaths killed by Palestinians.  The 92.5% is the lowest rate of civilian casualties in the history of urban warfare, and shows the care Israel uses when retaliating. (In contrast, the proportion of U.S. civilian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan were much higher, and more than 50% of Irish killed by the British in the 1969-2007 Operation Banner during the Troubles in Northern Ireland were civilians.)


More from CNN:


From The Guardian:

From the BBC:

See this article from Camera UK on how inadequate and biased the BBC’s reporting is when it comes to Israel and Palestine. An excerpt:

To summarise, just three of the 206 terror attacks which occurred during March [2023] were mentioned in BBC News website reports (two of which were about different topics) and that did not include the fatal attack in Tel Aviv.

Throughout the first quarter of 2023 the BBC News website reported 1.98% of the terror attacks which actually took place and 87% of the resulting fatalities.

With regard to BBC News website coverage of Israeli counter-terrorism operations, the corporation’s reporting continues to fail to adequately inform audiences how many of the Palestinian casualties were members of terrorist organisations and/or males involved in violence at the time.

Of the twenty-six Palestinian or Israeli Arab casualties during March, eight were killed while carrying out, or following, terror attacks. At least nineteen were affiliated with terrorist organisations.

Here’s a table of the attacks reported by the BBC, and there’s a longer table at the site of the Palestinian casualties who were members of terrorist groups. In contrast, the BBC reports every Israeli attack against the Palestinian Authority or Gaza, even those (most of them) in response to Palestinian terrorist attacks. One gets the impression, from the BBC coverage, that the IDF gets up every morning and says, “Let’s see: how many Palestinians will we kill today?” The BBC’s reporting is reprehensible; it’s surely anti-Israeli, which shades into anti-Semitism. We’re not even talking about Netanyahu here, but simply military clashes in response to terrorism.

From MSNBC, which mentions one Palestinian death but not the two Israelis killed (and a third gravely wounded) by Palestinian terrorists. At least the article mentions that the Israeli strikes were a “response”!

I found these headlines just by going to my own major sources within the space of five minutes; I bet other mainstream media followed suit.

As I said, this “inverted headline” calumny is characteristic of the history of reporting of Israeli/Palestinian clashes. Palestinians who attack Israeli civilians are valorized, Israelis who strike at military targets are demonized. Note that these headlines—here and in many former clashes—always take the same form: “Israel attacks” and then “in response to Palestinian rockets/attacks”.  This cannot be an accident, for it’s been true for decades. When damage is shown in photos (see above), it’s always damage to Palestinian infrastructure, even though there are plenty of pictures on Israeli sites of damage to Israel from Palestinian rockets fired at civilian targets (some of those rockets do get through the Iron Dome).

Why is the reporting done this way? It’s clear to anybody with neurons: to make Israel look responsible. But remember that Israel knows that if it kills civilians, or doesn’t launch surgical strikes on military targets, the eyes of the whole world will be on it, and it will once again be blamed for “excessive deaths.” But even with this military care, the mainstream media still participates in the demonization of Israel. That’s because the MSM—at least the venues above—lean left, and today the “progressive” Left holds Israel responsible for every clash or death in the area.

Now some of you who have kept up with the mess might say, “Well, yes, but the firing of rockets at Israeli civilians was Hamas’s response to an Israeli attack at the Al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount.” But that claim is also distorted, because you don’t have to dig deep to find out why Israeli police cleared the Al-Aqsa  mosque. The Palestinians inside had violated an agreement with Israel not to spend the night inside the mosque, and, beside that violation, Israel found out that rocks, fireworks, and other weapons had been stashed inside the mosque by Palestinians, ready to be used the next morning when Jews showed up to visit the mosque (also a Jewish holy site). See this article from the Jerusalem Post (see also here and here); an excerpt:

Temple Mount unrest comes amid violence in the region

The unrest comes amid clashes between Israel and Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip and southern Lebanon that broke out shortly after clashes on the Temple Mount early Wednesday morning.

On Tuesday night, dozens of Palestinians barricaded themselves with fireworks, stones and rods in the mosque ahead of planned Jewish visits to the complex on the eve of Passover on Wednesday morning. Police entered the mosque to remove them and clashes broke out, with hundreds of Palestinians arrested.

Hours after the clashes, about 10 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip toward Israel and a day later dozens of additional rockets were fired from Gaza and southern Lebanon towards southern and northern Israel.

Israel is the Left’s (and most of the world’s) Great Satan, and there’s only one explanation. It’s not rocket science.

h/t: Malgorzata

14 thoughts on “What do these eight headlines about the latest Israel/Palestine clashes have in common?

    1. “The only thing I don’t understand is why in the name of God do so many Jews support the Democrat Progressive Party.”

      Let me enlighten you.

      1. Despite your slur of the Democratic Party, it has always been strong supporters of Israel. The progressive wing is a distinct minority within it.

      2. Within the culture of American Jews, at least since the New Deal, there has been tremendous sympathy for the underdog, particularly the poor. Hence, they have supported the social welfare programs that have been part of the Democratic platform for decades.

      3. American Jews, in sympathy with hundreds of thousands of Israelis, are quite concerned about the policies of the Netanyahu government, without diminishing their support of Israel the country.

      4. American Jews, at least of the secular variety, will NEVER support or vote for the fascist Republican Party as long as it remains that.

      1. Have you noticed, Historian, that there’s a correlation between those who use “Democrat” as an adjective and those who use “Jew” as an adjective, too? They’re also among the most likely to claim that anyone with a “(D)” after his or her name is “(((Soros)))-backed.”

  1. The anti-Israel bias is purposeful and consistent—and not just at Al Jazeera (where today’s headline is “Israel strikes target Gaza.”).

    If Israel preemptively fired rockets into civilian dwellings in Gaza or Lebanon, and Hamas responded by firing back, would the headlines be “Hamas fires on Israel after rocket attack?” I don’t think so. The response would be “Israel fires rockets into Palestinian residences in Gaza.”

    The consistent positioning of Israel at the front of each headline tell you something. I’ve been observing this pattern for a long time.

  2. The German major news site had “North of Israel attacked by rockets” yesterday (with the origin of the attacks in the lede) and “Reaction to rocket attacks: Israel attacks targets in Gaza and Lebanon” today. I think that’s relatively okay, although it also mentions Israel first. Part of this may be due to the difficulty of how to call rogue non state actors that don’t identify themselves. While attacks from Gaza are probably “Intifada” type attacks related to the current ignoble temple mount clashes, I thought the Lebanese (presumably Hezbollah?) attacks might have something to do with the recent Israeli attacks on Iran-backed militias in Syria. But that was just a guess.

  3. The difficulty comes in stopping one’s account of what happened with a reference, at the very end, to the piece in the Jerusalem Post to planned Jewish visits to the Temple Mount on the eve of Passover. For a part of the background, going only to 2015, but indicating the issues, see International Crisis Group, https://www.palestine-studies.org/sites/default/files/jq-articles/JQ_63_The_Status_of_the_status_Quo_0.pdf
    The Temple Mount has been a flash point for decades. Shortly before I visited in 1990, Palestinians had been rolling boulders down onto Jewish worshippers, and the Israelis had responded with gunfire, killing 20. It hadn’t rained, and bloody handprints (made by putting hands onto bleeding bodies) were still on the walls of Al Aqsa. That blood is long since gone, but the pressures to rebuild the Temple, and to allow an ever-increasing presence of non-Muslim visitors on the Temple Mount, make the situation totally incendiary. If one digs deep enough to find the weapons stowed by Palestinians in the mosque, in anticipation of Passover visits by Jews, one needs also to dig deep enough to see the expectations that those visitors will include Jewish Temple Mount activists aiming to break the existing rules for what is allowed on the Temple Mount. All the groups involved continually exacerbate the situation on the Temple Mount.

    1. Malgorzata sent me a response as she is in the middle of translating Swedish, and so asked me to post her response to this comment. I’ve indented her own words below.

      “This makes no sense. Israel is now 75 years old. It is a powerful state and if the authorities wanted to change the situation on the Temple Mount they could do it. Please do not forget that when they took the Temple Mount from Jordan in 1967 they could have kept control of it. However, Moshe Dayan wanted to show Israel’s good will and sensitivity for Muslims’ religious feelings and voluntarily gave the administration over Al-Aqsa and the religious part of the whole Temple Mount to Islamist Waqf.

      Israel also forbids Jews (and Christians) to pray on the Temple Mount to spare Muslim feelings in spite of the fact that it is Judaism’s holiest place. Yes, there are a few fanatics in Israel who want to rebuild the Temple, and they have Israeli police to fight with – even before they encounter any Muslims! Jews are regularly arrested on the Temple Mount by Israeli police if there is a suspicion that they are silently praying! There is just no comparison between the Jewish fanatics who want to build the Temple (they want to build, not to kill Palestinians!) and Palestinians who want to kill Jews.”

  4. FWIW, the print edition of the (London) Times headlined the story “Israeli police clash with Palestinians at al-Aqsa mosque”, and the report itself began:

    “Palestinians have fired 16 rockets from the Gaza strip at Israel after clashes between youths and Israeli police inside the contested holy site of al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.

    In response Israel launched airstrikes against Hamas targets in Gaza”.

    So maybe not all the Murdoch press are biased all the time.

    BTW, “more than 50% of Irish killed by the British in the 1969-2007 Operation Banner during the Troubles in Northern Ireland were civilians” is a bit misleading. They were all civilians, although half were said to have been unarmed. In all, the British Armed Forces killed about 300 people. The paramilitary groups of both sides killed about 3000, of whom 1700 were killed by the IRA.

    1. The point still stands; even given that half of Irish civilians killed by the British were “true” unarmed civilians, that still makes 25% of them civilians. Compare that to the 7.5% non-combatants killed by the Israelis.

      And I can only quote the American liberal media that I looked up in a few minutes, not every paper in the world.

  5. Thanks for this. Beside their inversion of time, these headlines present an interesting and commonplace grammatical feature. Note that Israel’s actions are invariably stated in the active mood (“Israel strikes”, “Israel launches”, etc.). But the aggression to which Israel responded is often referred to with no actor, as if it just happens (“after rocket barrage”), like bad weather. This is typical of media reports on the issue, particularly when Arab terrorist attacks on Israelis are what just happens.

  6. If Israel held off 24-48 hours before responding to rocket attacks, I wonder whether the media would report the rocket attacks during that period of time, or if they would wait out Israel’s response before reporting.

    1. I think they would not report the rocket strikes at all. Then when Israel retaliated after 48 hr (risking that the attackers would have melted away into their hidey-holes in the meantime), the media would frame Israel’s response as gratuitous and unprovoked.

  7. I really like your blog, and find this entry particularly interesting. I know is not your job to explain in depth this thorny topic, but it makes me wonder if articles in Al jazeera claiming things like this are untrue or just another interpretation:

    Despite international law prohibiting the annexation and continued Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem, Israel has claimed sovereignty over the entirety of Jerusalem, including the Old City and the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, but the claims are considered unlawful and have not been recognised by the majority of the world’s countries.

    From https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/4/12/who-are-jewish-groups-entering-al-aqsa-mosque

    If what’s written is true, well then it’s another story…

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