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How to write about the Israel-Palestinian conflict

The Guardian: report on the Apr 7, 2022 Terror attack in Tel Aviv
The Guardian: report on the Apr 7, 2022 Terror attack in Tel Aviv
10 tips for reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: A guide for Western journalists.
[Trigger warning: Sarcasm]
1. As the saying goes “If it bleeds, it leads” – although we all know that some blood is redder than others. In the case of a Palestinian attack against Israelis, the headline should always invert the victim and perpetrator. For example: “Israeli forces kill Palestinian after Tel Aviv shooting leaves three dead”
2. Always headline the Israeli retaliation and bury the original Palestinian attack deep in the article. For example, see point #1.
3. Identity framing: If a terror operative, Hamas member or Islamic Jihad militant is killed in the middle of committing an attack, he is referred to simply as a nondescript ‘Palestinian’. Israeli victims of said attack must either have their identity blurred (“2 dead in Tel Aviv attack”), or dehumanized if possible (“Settlers”, “Zionists”)
4. Any story that does not fit the established narrative of “Israel = big, bad, aggressive” and “Palestinians = poor, good, just” is not newsworthy. Hamas wins at the student council elections at Birzeit University? Non-story. Nizar Banat “dies” during PA arrest? Doesn’t fit the narrative. Non-story. Hamas executes “Israel collaborators” in Gaza? Non-story.
5. Context matters. Every Palestinian attack must be framed as a natural response to some Israeli crime. 3 Israelis killed in a bar in Tel Aviv? Occupation. 4 Jewish Israelis stabbed to death in Beersheva? Bedouins protecting their land against the evil state. 2 Jewish Israelis killed by 2 Arab Israelis in Hadera? Years of marginalization and socio-economic inequality. 5 gunned down in Bnei Brak by a terrorist from Jenin? ‘Coz of Apartheid
6. All attacks against Israelis are always ‘alleged’. Also, said allegations must be placed in “square quotes” to question their truthfulness. Even if there is video evidence of an attack, existence that attack took place must be attributed to “Israeli authorities”. For example: “Alleged Tel Aviv ‘attack’ kills 3, Israeli authorities say”
7. On the contrary, any rare ‘alleged’ attack by Israeli civilians against Arabs or Palestinians is never ‘alleged’. Run with it, even if the details are not yet clear.
8. Ensure that Palestinian attacks are always placed in passive tense. Since Palestinians apparently have no agency, they can’t be held to account. Therefore, do not write “Palestinian gunman kills 3 Israelis in Tel Aviv”. Instead use “3 killed in Tel Aviv attack”
9. Symmetry and balance. Following each attack against Israelis, the article must be rebalanced to show the potential effects on the Palestinians side. Be sure to include how ‘tensions are rising’, quote someone saying that they’re fearful of a ‘backlash against people of Muslim appearance’ as well as a return to the ‘cycle of violence’ and intimate that the attack may cause a general rise in Jewish racism against Arabs
10. Most important: Even if you stretch the truth a little or even include falsehoods, it’ll take days before a retraction or apology can be issued, and by that time it’s old news and nobody cares.
About the Author
Avi was formerly a news writer at the Times of Israel. Originally from Australia, he served in the IDF and today works in Software development. He lives in Jerusalem with wife and 2 kids
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