By Dr.Irfan Raja, Muslim Mirror,
Once again, the Israeli army is committing worse forms of terrorism against the unarmed worshipers in Al-Aqsa mosque. Those at the spot has nothing but stones to protect itself and handheld mobile phone cameras to record and disseminate brutalities of the invading army in the holy month of Ramadan.
Screaming voices of women, children and elderly gathered in Al-Aqsa for prayers so far is failing to move the civilized world and the western media in particular that stood up for George Floyd, Malala Yousafzai and Alan Kurdi. So what had happened now? Is it because the Palestinians are perhaps less humane? Are Palestinians lives matter?
The United Kingdom has an inevitable association with the State of Israel. Since the birth of Israel, the UK media and politicians have extended unconditional support to Israel.
Now is the time to see whether or not the UK media has changed its view of the Israel-Palestine issue? After all, UK takes pride in human rights, so let’s see the reality. Remember The Guardian supported the creation of Israel on the Palestinian lands that it regrets. So now the best is to analyze the British media coverage of Al-Aqsa mosque incident and find our answers.
An African-American human rights activist, Malcolm-X famously said, “The media is the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.”
Almost seven decades have gone passed yet Malcolm-X visionary statement seems to be so true and relevant to contemporary media settings.
If you are watching the mainstream western media coverage of the Al-Aqsa mosque tragic events and the following Israeli airstrikes n Gaza than you would be surprised how sections of the British media reporting of Al-Aqsa mosque happening corresponds with Malcolm-X’s far-sighted thoughts.
Coincidently, the British broadsheets, tabloids, and broadcast channels display a uniform pattern of Al-Aqsa mosque reporting.
That is the media is purposely presenting the Israeli police attack on Al-Aqsa mosque as it as a “Clashes” even though the Israeli police that is professionally trained and heavily equipped with modern weapons whereas the Palestinians have gathered stones to safeguard them against the invading force inside the Al-Aqsa mosque.
Watch this one, “Rock-throwing Palestinians and Israeli police firing stun grenades and rubber bullets.” Honestly speaking, is there any comparison between unarmed civilians and the Israeli police?
Well! It is fact that Israel is generally exempt from criticism and if any journalist, politician, public figure or religious leader, sports personality speaks up for Palestinians that person’s career will vanish.
Politics of Phrases: What is Beneath the Headlines and Passages?
The British press skillful use of jargons, and phrases, for instance, “clash”, “violence”, “unrest”, “Palestinian militants”, “Hamas operators”, “worst religious unrest”, “security move”, “provocations by Muslims”, “restore order”, and “rioting of thousands of worshipers” indicates that Israel is a victim and in a defensive mood because of Muslims threatening behavior that has caused Israel to take protective measures.
Though, some of these phrases come from the spokesperson of Israeli officials. Only a few of the British newspaper including the Daily Mail uses president Tayyip Erdogan’s soundbite that denounces Israel as a “cruel terrorist state.”
In brief, these phrases remind us of a British thinker George Orwell famous saying, “Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”
Take, for example, Financial Times uses two verbs “hurt” for the Palestinians, and “injure” for Israelis where “hurt” means pain or upset while “injure” signifies a “physical damage”.
Similarly, phrases “violence” and “clash” is chosen to skilfully create an impression that both sides are equal and in war.
The matter for the fact is that no British newspaper has used phrases like “barbarianism”, “terrorism”, “state terrorism”, “extremists” or “terrorists” in connection with the Israeli forces or the right-wing Israeli settlers.
So let’s read through see the headlines of both liberal and conservative press and see how the same story appears with dissimilar meanings.
Take a look at randomly picked headlines of the British mainstream broadsheets, tabloids, and broadcast TV channels: The Guardian, “More than 205 Palestinians wounded in Jerusalem Al-Aqsa clashes”; “Israel: car hits Palestinian protestors after being pelted with stones-video” and “Israel launches airstrikes on Gaza Strip after Hams rocket attacks”
Even the liberal Guardian is defending Israel making a point here that Israel is only defending itself in response to the Hamas attack and that even Israeli citizen safeguarded him in response to Palestinian protestors’ attack.
However, The Guardian also included soundbites of prominent religious leaders aiming to calm the situation and inform the readers that those behind fan the fire is in fact right-wing people who have no respect for any religion?
Consider, Financial Times, headline, “Hamas rocket attacks provoke Israeli retaliation in Gaza: Israeli government attempts to calm tensions in Jerusalem by reining in settlers’ march fails to halt the violence.” Here, FT is repeating the same view that Israel is defending itself.
The Daily Telegraph, “Watch: Israeli car hits Palestinian amid the chaos of clashes at al-Aqsa mosque” and “Israel launches deadly Gaza offensive after 300 injured in Jerusalem clashes. Twenty people in Gaza died after Israel retaliated to Hamas rocket fire.”
In the above headline, The Daily Telegraph did not disclose the identity of injured people thus giving the reader an impression that Israelis are victims. Also, the use of a calculated word, “retaliation” denotes a “counter-attack” which means Israel is defending itself.
It is worth considering The Guardian headline, “Scores injured in the fresh night of Jerusalem clashes”, here is stunning resemblances between The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian as both avoid disclosing identities of injured in their headlines despite both newspapers are of dissimilar political orientations as The Guardian being left-wing and liberal and The Daily Telegraph is conservative and right-wing.
Now the BBC, “Jerusalem violence: Deadly airstrikes hit Gaza after rocket attacks”; “Jerusalem violence: The Israeli-Palestinian situation explained” and “Jerusalem: Israeli police clash with Palestinians in Jerusalem.”
Here in three headlines, “Jerusalem” is used instead of Al-Aqsa mosque to divert the attention and giving importance to the capital, not to the holy site itself. More BBC makes a case for Israel as defending against Hamas and that is a systemic bias.
BBC has a history of bias reporting on Gaza, remember it refused to share its platform to air the Gaza aid appeal but then an honest journalist and politician Tony Benn has done it. Sadly, the BBC has not changed its position.
Take, for instance, a few passages from the BBC’s previous and current reporting to see how it shapes public opinion dexterously. On 26 July 2015, BBC wrote, “Palestinian youths have clashed with Israeli police who entered the al-Aqsa mosque complex in East Jerusalem. The Palestinians are said to have barricaded themselves inside the mosque and thrown stones at police, who moved in to stop them.”
A BBC report paragraph reads “Elsewhere in the occupied West Bank, two Palestinians were shot dead after firing at an Israeli military base on Friday. Earlier in the week, a Palestinian gunman killed an Israeli religious student and a Palestinian teenager was killed in clashes with Israeli forces searching for him.”
Again, a systematic bias because of the BBC to tell the readers that it is the Palestinians who attack Israelis first and Israel always take precautionary measures to safeguard its citizens. So a reoccurring theme “self-defense” for Israeli corresponds in the mainstream British press. Strange though, it is a similar pattern in liberal, conservative, and even independent press.
Daily Mirror passage reads as: “The missile strike came in response to Hamas firing rockets toward the Jerusalem area and southern Israel. Militants were carrying out a threat to punish Israel for violent confrontations with Palestinians in Jerusalem in recent days.”
As the Israeli attacks continue coming days the question of factual media reporting will be the main public concern
Currently, the bottom-line of the British media reporting shows Israel is doing self-defense. Secondly, as the Express wrote, “The Al-Aqsa mosque is known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. The mosque, which is considered to be the holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest in Islam, has been center-stage to ongoing violence between the two sides in the past.”
But none of the British newspapers bother to consult history and that how Jews handed over the keys of Al-Aqsa mosque to Caliph Umar Ibn al-Khattab (RA) peacefully.
There is a disparity in fact check as the number of wounded, killed figures don’t show similarity. The Independent quoted IDF as saying that “Hamas is firing three rockets in one min for last 18 hours” look at the BBC figures so there is a clear contradiction in terms of the number of rockets fired and as well as the damages that occur.
Even Financial Times admitted in one of its articles that it “wrongly stated that the al-Aqsa mosque was in East Jerusalem.”