US coverage of Gaza mistakes perpetrator for victim

US coverage of Gaza mistakes perpetrator for victim
Comment: The American public is being spoon fed intentionally misleading information on the situation in Gaza, writes CJ Werleman.
5 min read
07 May, 2019
A Palestinian boy among the rubble of his house destroyed in an Israeli airstrike [Getty]
In the same way the National Rifle Association (NRA) has weaponised "thoughts and prayers" to quash the gun control debate in the aftermath of a mass shooting, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), part of the US Israel lobby, has turned the self-serving phrase, "Israel has a right to defend itself" into a routine chant, meant only to deflect attention from its war crimes in Gaza.

Whenever poorly armed Palestinians exchange fire with their occupiers, who also so happen to be the Middle East's most powerful military, the Israel lobby turns to its social media accounts to make the words "Israel has a right to defend itself" into a hashtag trending topic on Twitter and Facebook.

This propagandised phrase is specifically designed to conceal the reality of the conflict by distorting the timeline of events, and coercing audiences into believing the perpetrator is in fact, the victim.

So, here is the actual timeline of events for the violence that struck both Gaza and Israel during a 48-hour period over the weekend:

On Friday, Israeli military snipers killed two unarmed Palestinian protesters in Gaza, and seriously wounded another 116, including 39 children, four paramedics, and a journalist.

The words 'Israel has a right to defend itself' are prolonging the suffering of the Palestinian people

But let's not pretend Israel hasn't been murdering Palestinian protesters in Gaza every single day for the past 12 months, or since the Great Return March began on March 30 of last year. More than 6,000 Palestinians were shot by Israeli snipers in 2018 alone, a fact that led the United Nations to conclude Israel may have "committed war crimes against Palestinian protesters."

The UN commission said it "found reasonable grounds to believe that individual members of the Israeli security forces, in the course of their response to the demonstrations, killed and injured civilians who were neither directly participating in hostilities nor posing an imminent threat."

But back to the timeline.

Israel's response to Palestinian militants shooting towards the very same Israeli snipers who killed two and injured more than 100 unarmed protesters on Friday, was to carry out an air raid on Gaza, which left two Hamas militants dead.

In turn, Hamas and Islamic Jihad responded firing approximately 200 rockets into southern Israel, with most intercepted by Israel's "Iron Dome" missile defense shield, but leaving four Israeli citizens dead.

Israel then went ahead and pounded the Gaza Strip with a barrage of drone strikes and artillery fire, leaving 27 Palestinians dead, including two pregnant women and a 14-month-old baby girl.

At the same time as Israel, a nuclear armed military power, was carrying out its bombardment on Gaza; the world's largest open air prison, one US lawmaker after another took to Twitter posting the words, "Israel has a right to defend itself," or words to that effect.

"Once again, Israel faces a barrage of deadly rocket attacks by terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad. We support Israel 100 percent in its defense of its citizens," tweeted US president Donald Trump.

Trump's tweet, and similarly worded tweets from dozens of Republican and Democrat lawmakers were enthusiastically retweeted by the Israel lobby, with the words, "Thank you for backing Israel's right to self defense."

But if you review the timeline of events, it is clear to see that Israel was the aggressor, with Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants responding to the killing and wounding of 116 unarmed Palestinian protesters on Friday, and not forgetting Israel's yearlong assault on the Palestinian enclave, or the 12 years of blockade and periodic bombardment and invasion that preceded.

Worse still, is the fact the US mainstream media seemingly writes its headlines to mirror the unabashedly pro-Israel sentiment expressed by both the Israel lobby and the US political establishment.

"Gaza Militants Fire 250 Rockets, and Israel Responds With Airstrikes," reads a headline in The New York Times.

"Death Toll Rises As Gaza Fires Hundreds of Rockets Into Israel, Which Responds With Airstrikes," reads another headline in The Washington Post.

Neither of these headlines reflect the actual timeline of events and the reality of Israel's illegal and brutal blockade of Gaza.

Neither of these headlines reflect the actual timeline of events and the reality of Israel's illegal and brutal blockade of Gaza

Instead, they chime with an enterprise that seeks to falsely flip the tables on reality, by portraying Israel as the victim, and Palestinians the aggressor.

This latest round of violence between the occupier (Israel) and the occupied (Palestinians) again demonstrates how the American public is spoon fed intentionally misleading information, which serves to distort a clear view of the realities on the ground. 

This helps AIPAC financed US lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle to provide diplomatic cover for Israel's international law and human rights violations within both the UN Security Council and General Assembly.

Ultimately, the words "Israel has a right to defend itself" only serve to prolong the suffering of the Palestinian people, and wrongly cast the parties to the conflict as equals. 

CJ Werleman is the author of 'Crucifying America', 'God Hates You, Hate Him Back' and 'Koran Curious', and is the host of Foreign Object.

Follow him on Twitter: @cjwerleman

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.