More biased reporting on Israel and Palestine

May 4, 2023 • 11:30 am

Once again we see the familiar pattern: Palestinian terrorists attack Israel (either attacking an individual Israeli or firing rockets at civilians), Israel then retaliates with targeted strikes on terrorists, and finally the mainstream media reports it as if it was an Israel-initiated strike. This article below, which appeared the other day at the Associated Press, is a good example. I’ll first give the headline, then below a bit of the actual report. Click this headline to read the story:

 Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip killed a 58-year-old man and wounded five others on Wednesday, Palestinian health officials said, even as the latest spasm of violence between Israel and Palestinian militants in the enclave appeared to ebb.

Israeli fighter jets struck targets in Gaza in response to salvos of rockets launched by Palestinian militants at Israeli territory on Tuesday. But after sunrise, the violence seemed to subside as both sides signaled they wanted to avoid a wider conflict.

The exchange erupted when a prominent Palestinian detainee died in Israeli custody after an 87-day hunger strike. The death of Khader Adnan, 45, a leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group credited with popularizing hunger strikes as an effective form of activism, reverberated across the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, where he is revered as a national hero.

Note how the AP leads with the death of a 58-year-old man, as if he were surely a civilian at that age. But as I wrote at the first link above, Israeli attacks are targeted at terrorists, and their rate of killing civilians is far, far lower than the rate of Palestinian terrorists, who deliberately target civilians.

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.)

These headlines are a way of implicating Israel as initiating violence when in fact that is vanishingly rare: Israel responds to violence by attacking terrorist targets. (Look at the eight headlines I posted a while back.)  This is the way that the mainstream media produces a narrative of Israeli aggressiveness; how many people read beyond the headlines? Once you recognize this pattern, it’s hard to see it as anything other than a tacit agreement among the media to demonize Israel. Why do they do this? You tell me.

30 thoughts on “More biased reporting on Israel and Palestine

  1. Perhaps the wider question of why there are Palestinian terrorists in the first place needs to be asked. How would you react if your land was stolen and you were treated as a second class citizen?

    I’m not condoning terrorist acts, but saying there is a much broader context in which to see what is happening.

    1. That’s a bit slippery. First you excuse terrorist acts, then you say you don’t condone them. You also have rather over simplified both the history of the conflict and the motives of the Palestinian terrorists, thus ignoring the broader context you claim excuse the terrorists acts. Understandably, that context can’t be explained in a three sentence comment, but it does make this comment a (slippery) nothing burger.

    2. I’m sorry, Mike, but you appear to know almost nothing about the history of how Israel came into existence. Educate yourself, and you can start by reading comment #7 below.

      As for your implication that it’s almost okay for Palestinians to kill Israeli citizens because their land was “stolen”, that’s reprehensible. You say you’re not condoning terrorism, but really, you are. But most prominent is your profound ignorance summed up in the statement “Palestinian land was stolen.”

    3. Just have a very good look at the actual history of this situation. A proper look.
      Do you think anybody here doesn’t know that there is a broader context. But the reality of that broader context is what is missing from simplistic statements like yours.

  2. “How would you react if your land was stolen and you were treated as a second class citizen?” Impossible to read this without thinking: Tucker Carlson!

    1. Nothing like that fool. Just looking at the history of the region. If you are in the UK a recent BBC series is worth a watch.

      1. The British government have form splitting land without enough thought to the consequences. Ireland and India spring to mind.

        1. That is not true, there was plenty of thought, and not relevant anyway, the circumstances were completely different.

        2. Mike,
          Perhaps you can tell us how you would have dealt with India, and the partition demanded by Indians, or Ireland and how to respect the protestant majority of Ulster that wanted no part of Eire? Much thought and negotiation went into those settlements, and still thousands have died in Ireland, and maybe a million in India. No doubt those figures would be higher if the Brits had just shrugged their shoulders and walked off. There’s no way any of us can feel superior about it all, unless we can say how it should have been done in a foolproof way that would have obviously been better. We don’t study history in order to conduct the theoretical re-runs of counterfactuals: we do it to learn from mistakes among other reasons.

      2. It’s funny. People like you always seem to be so eager to respond, until a comment like #7 below is made and then…crickets.

        Please, do tell us who was originally (and repeatedly, over millennia) dispossessed of their land in the area called Israel. Do tell us. We’re eager to hear some alternate version of history in which it wasn’t the Jews. Show us your evidence, the way people who make actually thoughtful comments like #7 below make in direct contrast to your absurd claims, and pleas that someone watch a “recent BBC series.”

  3. The Palestinian terrorists need not target Israeli civilians —although they of course do—for Israel to be justified in striking back at them and killing them. Attacks against Israeli soldiers would also be a crime that Israel would legitimately retaliate against. Indeed, for Israel’s survival it would be more important for it to make the rate of exchange overwhelmingly unsustainable for the illegal combatants were they to gain the ability to attack Israel’s soldiers. More Palestinian non-combatants would probably die as a result and the terrorists know this.

    The laws of war do allow military occupiers to take reprisals against civilians who harbour illegal combatants. Israel shows admirable restraint here but they need not. This is an entirely separate question from the occupation itself.

    1. ” Indeed, for Israel’s survival it would be more important for it to make the rate of exchange overwhelmingly unsustainable for the illegal combatants were they to gain the ability to attack Israel’s soldiers.”

      This is, unfortunately, impossible, as the PA and Hamas ensure that as many of their people as possible are radicalized against Israel, and Jews in general. Pay-for-slay programs, fat pensions for terrorists and their families, television and other programming explicitly exhorting the people to hate Jews and Israel. If it was any other place, the world would be horrified at what they do with most of their “foreign aid,” which rarely goes to things like feeding people or healthcare (most such social and essential services are provided by…drumroll please…Israel!).

      Of course, you know all of this. Just figured I’d drop it for people who are still brainwashed, though it’s almost certain to make no difference in their thinking, blinded as they are by propaganda and their own sense of moral certainty.

  4. A headline yesterday in the paper edition of the WSJ: Palestinian Dies in Israeli Prison. (And then in smaller font): Gaza militants fire rockets over border after detainee perishes during hunger strike.

    Ah, I see. Mysterious death . . . by suicide. Oh, and militants, they respond.

    Here is the version of the headline in the electronic edition: Gaza Militants Fire Rockets at Israel After Palestinian Hunger Striker Dies. Israeli jet fighters strike targets in Gaza in response.

    See, WSJ, that’s not too hard to do.

  5. It’s a combination of progressive anti-colonialist virtue signaling and just-below-the-surface antisemitism.

  6. It’s not so bad to know what one is talking about, especially when it comes to the history of a geographic area with exceptionally complicated past.

    The only independent state that ever existed in an area called later the British Mandate of Palestine was a Jewish state. After invasion of the Roman Empire and expulsion of most of the land’s inhabitants (Jews), Romans renamed it Syria-Palaestina to erase its Jewish past.

    Some Jews however, managed to stay, and then countless Jews returned as soon as it was possible. For centuries, one Empire after the other invaded the land and treated it as its own province, never building an independent state. Then came the Turks, who ruled this sleepy province for 400 years. Then came British after WWI. The League of Nations tasked Great Britain with the mandate to help to build a Jewish State there (San Remo 1920) on the area of today’s Israel, West Bank and Jordan, calling it the British Mandate of Palestine.

    Two years later, Churchill cut off everything east of Jordan River, giving it to Arabs (Jews living there were ethnically cleansed), and that was approved in 1922 by the League of Nations with a decision that everything west of the Jordan River should be the future Jewish State.

    In the meantime, from the middle of 19th century, Jews returned to the land from all over the world (starting with Jews from Yemen). They BOUGHT (buying normally is not seen as stealing) the land from the landlords (mostly wastelands). When Israel was proclaimed as a state, five Arab armies invaded it immediately but lost the war. Until Israel’s proclamation of independence, Jews living there were called “Palestinians”, and Arab living there called themselves Arabs or Syrians.

    Today there are practically no Jews in Arab lands (and almost 1 million lived there before being ethnically cleansed), while 21% of Israel’s population is Arab (and in spite of your statement they are full citizens of Israel and have the same rights as Israeli Jews). I really would suggest some reading of real historical documents before you write any more comments.

    1. This is a good summary. It’s especially important to note the *purchases* of lands by Jews during the period prior to the British Mandate. That part of the narrative is often left out, perhaps deliberately.

    2. Reading the actual historic documents (the treaty of San Remo), there are no clearly defined land limits, land proportion or any other definition of the areas of the mandates (and in no way of the number or limits of states that would result from the mandates), except general geographic names. There is no formal map accompanying the treaty, either – all maps presented are interpretations of the names referred to in the treaty, and created later (the French and British could not even decide at first where one mandate ended and the other started).

      In any case, the people in the West Bank are mostly under the jurisdiction of the Israeli state [for sure under the “jurisdiction” of the Israeli Army, police and soon probably the new “Militia”] (and according to your interpretation of the San Remo Conference, they should be in Isreal fully), so why doesn’t Isreal give them the vote and “full rights”?

      Finally, I would be interested to hear how would all the San Remo references and land-buying receipts explain the Golan Heights situation?

      1. We must have seen different documents because I’ve seen maps delineating different mandates (French and British). Moreover, in 1922 there was another decision to cut off 78% of the British Mandate for Palestine (today’s Jordan) for the Palestinian Arabs, and to set aside the remaining 22% for the “Jewish National Home” with clear lines along the Jordan River.

        Golan is a different matter. The Golan Heights were never thought of as a part of Jewish National Home. However, from 1948 to 1967, Syrians were shooting Israeli citizens on the plain below Golan Heights and both 1967 and 1973 Syrian tanks descended from Golan Heights, endangering Israel’s existence. As far as I know, the international law allows the country defending itself from aggression to retain the territory from which in the future aggression could start again. As Syria was unwilling to even start a peace process, Israel annexed part of the Golan Heights. Even if it has nothing to do with the San Remo decision – should Israel give this land back to Assad who butchered at least half a million of his own citizens?

        1. There is no provision in international law to “retain” foreign territory, (of course.)

          There are no maps connected to the San Remo conference treaty.

          Not all Arabs under Israeli jurisdiction have equal rights.

          The fourth fact contained in this comment is that it will be rejected by the administrator (as were the previous ones), who purports to be a proponent of rational, fact-based discussion. Such a pity!

          1. I didn’t approve the email as I was asleep. Your last one is the same as this one, so I just trashed it and am allowing this one.

            But this is the last say you get, for your last line is not only wrong, but rude.

          2. Here is the map from San Remo conference 1920:


            Here is an article describing the international law in the case of territory taken in defensive war:


            Poland, my country, got a huge part of Germany after World War II. There were also other changes of territories in Europe in order to prevent Germany from repeating their aggression. None of those territories acquired in defensive war are deemed illegal. Why do you concentrate only on Israel given that this was the general situation for Germany?

            Moreover, Israel was willing to return the Golan Heights to Syria in exchange for peace. That this was a sincere proposition can be judged by drawing a parallel with the Sinai Peninsula. Israel took the Sinai Peninsula (not mentioned in San Remo and so not the part of Jewish National Home) at the same time as it took the Golan Heights. However, Israel did return it to Egypt after Egypt agreed to sign a peace treaty with Israel.

  7. Israel’s right to exist as a sovereign state flows from its ability to maintain its territorial integrity and to enforce its laws everywhere inside what it claims to be its borders. Elements within Israel may contest that legitimacy but they can do so only by trying to overthrow the government and imposing a new one, which, of course, the current state resists. States don’t need moral legitimacy or a seal of approval by foreigners. They just need recognition that their state is functioning as a state and can be trusted to pay interest on its debts. Israel succeeds on all these tests, The Palestinians have to obey Israeli law whether they like it or not. Or use violence and be punished. Justifying or excusing crimes is a road of glass houses that foreigners out not to start down.

    Now, we outsiders may take a moral position ourselves about the creation and existence of any foreign country, to motivate our efforts to sway our own governments’ foreign policy toward it (but not Israel’s policy directly. That’s for Israelis. They’re the ones who are going to be pushed into the sea or disenfranchised if things go south, or west.) Certainly the purchase of land by Jews—there were of course no “Israelis” yet—before 1948 should figure heavily in our sentiments toward modern Israel. They weren’t squatters or land robbers. Regardless if the Arabs disputed the sovereignty, which Israel settled by winning the 1948 war, the land itself was not stolen by its current holders. Private purchase of land does not confer sovereignty, of course, else there’d be little dots of Canadian territory all over the United States, and vice versa, with a lot of Chinese territory, going solely by the citizenship of the landowners. But in the context of 1922-1948 Palestine, it buttresses the case when there was not already a recognized sovereign state east of the Jordan River in territory where Jews had bought land and were expelled from.

    To not see all this I think is antisemitism because it holds Jews to a standard that we ourselves in North America don’t hold ourselves to. If we’re not going to wade into the ocean until we drown, why should Jews in Israel?

    1. “To not see all this I think is antisemitism because it holds Jews to a standard that we ourselves in North America don’t hold ourselves to.”

      I can’t think of a single country that is held to anything close to the standards applied to Israel, by North American countries and the entire rest of the West, as well as most other countries, and the UN and just about every other international organization (including charitable organizations like Amnesty International).

  8. Jerry, I totally agree. I am confounded by the anti-Israeli bias in my adopted country (NZ) and even within my own family. My best guess includes anti-Semitism and the thorough brainwashing that passes for NZ education. I say this after 42 years in high school education (21 years each in South Africa and NZ)

  9. The warped logic of intersectional social justice has declared Muslim semitic peoples brown, and Jewish semitic people white, but would that conclusion be applied so rigorously if there weren’t some anti-semitism (of the anti-Jewish kind) just under the surface of so many peoples’ minds? “In each and every generation a person is obliged to regard himself as if he had come out of Egypt.” Jews are taught to feel that they have been personally redeemed from that bondage, and it applies to the Holocaust just as much. The world forgets. No one talks of reparations for Jewish slavery, and already many forget or choose to disbelieve there was a Holocaust. Does anyone imagine there would be no celebrations among the Intersectionalists if Israel were to be destroyed again? I’m afraid we may not be done with pogroms.

Leave a Reply