We must challenge racist Western media bias on Palestine

Piers Morgan, media bias & the power of young Palestinian journalists
5 min read

Tharwa Boulifi

08 December, 2023
Western media has long been accused of bias when it comes to coverage of Israel’s crimes on Gaza. Tharwa Boulifi explains that there's double standards, a devaluing of Palestinian lives & worse treatment reserved for Arab & pro-Palestine voices.
The historical context of Palestine’s occupation by Israel is crucial because it undermines attempts to frame the issues as having started from 7 October, writes Tharwa Boulifi. [GETTY]

Since 7 October, Israel opened the gates of hell on Palestinians; with navy attacks, air strikes, ground attacks, and hospital bombings, Israeli military forces have killed over 17,000 people including more than 7,000 children. As usual, Western media mainstream outlets’ journalists have been on the spot to cover the genocide supported and funded by many of their governments. But as Israel’s merciless violence continued, so too did the vocal criticism of the reporting, especially from the Arab youth who heavily denounced the bias, institutional racism and insensitivity of the coverage.

Indeed, Western mainstream media has rightly been accused of misleading audiences through language, tone and the selective nature of what is reported. Additionally, the treatment by mostly white journalists who interview Palestinians has at times been problematic. It almost seems like a concerted effort is made to lead Arab interviewees to lose their temper on camera, reinforcing the notion that they are aggressive and hysterical even though such a reaction is entirely understandable in the face of mass killings and skewed media depictions of the genocide in Gaza.

Consider the optics alone: an elegant white journalist suited up with a Palestinian/Arab interviewee who’d loose their cool rapidly as they remain calm and professional. It really tells you all you need to know about how this war is being presented to the wider world.

A shining example of this sort of behaviour is seen in one of the most widely viewed platforms: Piers Morgan Uncensored, which sees interviewees representing “both sides”. Some of the guests who are invited in defence of Palestine have included British-Iraqi rapper Kareem Dennis aka Lowkey, UK Palestinian ambassador Husam Zomlot, and Egyptian comedian Bassem Youssef. With each discussion, it has been striking how Morgan refrains from informing viewers that Palestine has been colonised for over 75 years. Even when the Palestinian ambassador reminded him of the historical context and the role played by Britain in giving away Palestinians’ land, the British host didn’t really respond to it.

For those who have long watched media bias towards Israel in the West, the historical context of Palestine’s occupation by Israel is crucial because it undermines attempts to frame the issues as having started from the 7 October operation Al Aqsa Flood, as opposed to the 1948 Nakba when Palestinians were ethnically cleansed and over 750,000 of them were forcibly displaced from their homes and land. However, Morgan’s questioning remains within the timeline of the past two month, highlighting Hamas’s attack which he repeatedly asks interviewees to condemn.

Morgan, like so many other outlets including Fox news or the BBC lead international viewers who don’t have a solid background in the region’s history, to believe that Hamas started a war out of nowhere, just to attack Israel and Jewish people. This constant decontextualisation is made worse by the double standards when it comes to which lives are depicted as being of worth. For example, Morgan would systematically remind his pro-Palestine guests of the atrocity of what happened to Israeli civilians, how “ children and grandmas were killed” during this attack. However, when his guests tell him that the same has been happening to Palestinians for weeks now, the host doesn’t ever seem to dwell on this point for very long.

Lowkey, who called this approach “hypocritical”, reminded the Morgan of the hyper disproportional response of Israel. The rapper also pointed out to the difference in how he felt he was being treated compared to interviewees with opposing political views, David Petraeus who was head of US forces during the occupation of Iraq, and Mark Regev, Netanyahu’s senior adviser, who were much more respected in how they were questioned.

Furthermore, when Morgan is accused of having biased opinions he has often repeated that he was against the Iraq War, as though it is an exemption from being on the wrong side of history when it comes to Palestinians. It serves only as an attempted distraction that is completely unrelated to the criticism made against him, nor the subject at hand.

Indeed, Morgan is a reflection of the wider injustice, denial, and hypocrisy that Western media is spewing.

In an interview for The Nation with Mohammed El-Kurd, Palestinian journalist, Maram Humaid, talked about the “general distrust of Gazans and local sources” by mainstream media. Humaid mentioned her experience with an American journalist with whom she worked during the Great March of Return back in 2018, who couldn’t believe that a 9-month-old girl suffocated and died due to tear gas, as it was denied by Israel. It was despite eyewitnesses. This one story is reflective on an entire industry of mainstream Western journalists who are disproportionately driven by preconceived and often racist ideas, rather than the truth that's backed up by material irrefutable proof.

While Western mainstream media and Western politicians keep turning a blind eye to the ethnic cleansing that’s taking place in Palestine, young brave Palestinians like Bisan Owda, and Motaz Azaiza are documenting the daily impact of Israel's war on Palestinians’ lives. In this current propaganda war that Israel is desperate to win, with all the recourses and support from global Western powers, it is these Palestinian voices speaking truth to power who will ultimately be remembered.

Tharwa Boulifi is a Tunisian freelancer who writes about feminism, human rights, and social justice. Her work has appeared in Teen Vogue, Newsweek, the New African, African Arguments.

Follow her on Twitter: @TharwaBoulifi

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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.