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The Disinformation and Bias in the Media Addressing Palestine and Israel

By Emma Caspi

Staff Writer


Via The New Yorker


The crisis between Palestine and Israel has taken over the news and broken hearts, causing much grief and pain to not only those directly impacted, but to people across the world. Moreover, the propaganda, disinformation, and bias disseminated over various platforms have confused and shocked readers. 


According to CNN – who is biased, and is therefore only used for base information and looked at objectively – the ongoing crisis gained media attention when Hamas, an Islamist organization whose military wing was created in 1987 as a resistance against Israel, broke through the border walls of Israel on October 7th killing 1300 civilians and seizing more than 200 hostages.  


Their operation is called “Al-Aqsa Storm” which fought back against the Israeli forces. Specifically, they fought back against the Israeli forces who stormed a sacred mosque in Jerusalem as well as the siege of Gaza (which was a blockade of the Gaza Strip). To contextualize, Hamas governs over Gaza and asserts its presence in the belief that they are an alternative to the Palestinian Authority. It is crucial to state that the citizens of Gaza and Hamas are two separate entities.


 Israel retaliated by declaring war in which they executed their plan called “Operation Swords of Iron” where they would try to destroy the leadership of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The Israeli army still proceeds to uphold their naval, air, and land blockade and, in the effort to bomb the Gaza Strip to sustain the operation, have killed over 8000 with more than 2000 citizens presumed dead. Israel has blocked necessities, such as fuel and water, and the evacuation route set for the citizens was bombed. 


Many questions arose surrounding the topic, mainly about what caused such events. There is no one simple answer to the so-called ‘start’ of this crisis as it has been intensifying since May 14th, 1948, the creation of Israel. Therefore, this is not simply a single retaliation, but part of a history that has been ongoing for decades. Neither Hamas or the Zionists however, are justifiable for their actions and devastation. The Oslo accords, which are a pair of agreements between Israel and the Palestine Liberal Organization, were implemented to try and end this prolonged crisis, but the process did not succeed.


During these uncertain times, many people have taken it upon themselves to spread misinformation and/or disinformation, political propaganda, and create or share bias in the media. Such information has been very problematic, especially for those who wholeheartedly rely on these types of media for their news.


The sizable layoff of those who monitor controversial content only exacerbates this cyclical false information. A vicious cycle of unwanted misinformation that is difficult to halt can result from constant misreports. This is what inevitably leads to a rise in antisemitism and islamophobia. Take Wadea Al-Fayoume, a 6 year old American-Palestinian who was stabbed 26 times and murdered by his landlord for simply being Muslim. 

Certain people are taking the chance to distort or completely fabricate the words of political officials, create false AI-generated images, and utilize videos out of context. CP24 News provides examples: an innocent video of parachute jumpers in Cairo during September was captioned to seem like Hamas militants were infiltrating Israel. Another realistic clip of an actor lying in a pool of blood that was used as propaganda has been revealed to be the footage of a short film shot in 2015 titled “Empty Place” directed by Awni Eshtaiwe, a filmmaker from the West Bank, about violence against Israelis.


Bias, just like disinformation, is a pressing issue one should not overlook. TikTok has been flooded with videos captioned #standwithPalestine or #standwithIsrael. Western media is also immersed with biased articles and journalists who are pro-Israel, while Arab media outlets are pro-Palestine. Journalists are breaking their responsibility of objectivity by allowing their biases to leak into their articles.


Bias can be as subtle as using different contexts of words that mean the same thing such as BBC News using ‘dead’ for the victims in Gaza and ‘killed’ or ‘murdered’ for those in Israel. The purposeful variation of these similar words makes the deaths of Israel seem more tragic than those of Palestine. There can also be far more prevalent journalists heavily elaborating on one side’s situation, while hardly paying attention to the other. 


A.W. Ohlheiser, a senior technology reporter at Vox, believes that one can navigate deceptive and biased news if one takes the appropriate steps.


Ohlheiser suggests that you understand the platform you rely on: is that platform prone to frequent misinformation or bias? Do they prioritize engagement over reliability? Does a blue badge or verification mean their information is sound and encompassing? You can SIFT: “Stop, Investigate the source, Find better coverage, and Trace claims, quotes, and media to the original context” to know if a source is reliable.


Most important is the role we play in the situation. It is best to refrain from possibly spreading biased or incorrect information if you have an unsteady grasp of current events. The best thing one can do when they are uncertain is to keep oneself informed and shut down those who perpetrate harmful information. Words can do more harm than we think.

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