We need to hear more Palestinian voices

Thousands of protesters joined a march in Philadelphia calling for an end to the violence and freedom for the Palestinian people, but it was absent from news coverage.

45
SOURCEForeign Policy in Focus
Image Credit: Joe Piette

Originally published in OtherWords.

Like many of us, I’ve been glued to media coverage of the terrible violence in Gaza and Israel.

I was deeply shaken by the brutal killings of over a thousand Israelis on October 7. The families of Israelis killed and taken hostage deserve justice for these crimes. But instead of justice, all I’ve seen from the far-right Israeli government is more death.

Palestinians have already endured 75 years of displacement and oppression. The 2.2 million Palestinians living in the cramped Gaza strip have lived for 16 years under an Israeli siege that chokes their access to food, water, electricity, and movement.

Now Gazans’ access to these necessities has been cut off completely. Nearly half of the population’s homes have been damaged or destroyed by Israeli bombings, and well over 8,000 civilians have been killed. All with no end in sight.

As a Jewish American, I don’t feel safer when the Israeli government breaks international law to bomb families sheltering in refugee camps or cut off electricity to children in hospitals. I especially don’t feel safe knowing my U.S. tax dollars are funding these crimes.

And I’m not alone. Recently, I joined a march in Philadelphia calling for an end to the violence and freedom for the Palestinian people.

An estimated 10,000 of us showed up — including parents pushing strollers, friends holding banners together, and elderly couples arm in arm. We marched against what hundreds of scholars have warned is genocide.

It was a historic community call for peace. Yet it was noticeably absent from local news coverage. Days afterward, the only evidence it happened was one small news clip noting that “dozens gathered” — a comic misrepresentation.

“This is not only media suppression, but an erasure of history,” said Philadelphia organizer Nour Qutyan, who helped assemble the rally.

Just the previous week, a smaller rally in support of the Israeli government was covered by a swath of local news outlets. This eye-opening double standard reflects a much broader silencing of Palestinians and their advocates in the media.

During these weeks of Israel’s bombing campaign, leading Palestinian commentators including Noura Erakat, Omar Baddar, and Yousef Munayyer have had cable news appearances cut or canceled. Jewish American author Nathan Thrall had ads for a new book simply about Palestinians pulled from NPR and the BBC.

Equally noteworthy is the U.S. media’s passive treatment of Palestinian deaths. While headlines note when Israelis are “killed,” they often say that Palestinians simply “die,” without saying how.

According to a 2019 study on 50 years of coverage, U.S. headlines are also more than twice as likely to cite Israeli sources — including documented disinformation — than Palestinian sources.

This bias isn’t only unfair — it’s harmful.

Polls show the vast majority of Americans across party lines agree that our government should call for a ceasefire in Gaza. In Israel, even the siblings of people killed by Hamas are calling for peace, not war. Instead of uplifting these voices, many media outlets are inciting more violence.

By “silencing any criticisms of Israel,” Qutyan warns that “editors who are meant to uphold journalistic integrity, truth, and the so-called ethics of news media” are instead “co-signing genocide” in Gaza.

In the coming weeks, I will remain glued to the coverage of the violence that my tax dollars are funding. As a Jewish American, I demand life and freedom for Palestinians — and coverage which reflects that.

FALL FUNDRAISER

If you liked this article, please donate $5 to keep NationofChange online through November.

COMMENTS