Judith Davis

Unasked Questions about the “March of Return”

Here we go again, another Israeli-Palestinian conflict, this time with Gaza. The media flippantly tosses out its usual shop worn phrases. The Palestinians, whether knife-wielding West Bank residents or rioting Gazans sending explosive devices across Israel’s border, are involved in a “spontaneous grass roots peaceful protest” because they are “frustrated by the 70 year Israeli occupation” and long “to return to historic Palestine,“ aka “their ancestral lands.” The Israelis, of course, are showing “excessive force.”

The media is so enamored of its favorite Israeli-Palestinian narrative that it neglects to provide the facts that would allow consumers to draw truly informed conclusions.

Question: How does the media not know that the “Great Return March” is hardly a spontaneous grass roots event? Isn’t it clear that such a carefully orchestrated demonstration has required extensive preparation–and funding– from Iran? Indeed, it was so well planned that “detailed directives” were dispersed via social media to inform Gazans about where-within Israel- they could gather to hear victory speeches celebrating their successful invasion.

Obviously, Hamas expected the “peaceful” demonstrations to turn violent as did anyone else familiar with Israeli-Palestinian conflicts. What else could possibly be expected when an angry mob of 40,000 propaganda-fed people is massed along their enemy’s border?

Question: How could western media possibly not know that Hamas’s violation of Israel’s borders would force the IDF to protect its country? Isn’t a nation’s first responsibility the security of its citizens? Why is the world so shocked that Israel defends itself? What country on this planet would yield its borders to an angry mob?

And why does the world not know how skillfully Hamas manipulates the media- especially when they freely admit it. A Hamas leader has acknowledged, “When we talk about ‘peaceful resistance’ we are deceiving the public…We will take down the border and we will tear out their [the Israeli’s] hearts from their bodies.” And another Hamas spokesman admitted that 50 of 62 people killed in clashes with Israeli soldiers “were from Hamas…” In other words, these were not dead civilians but trained terrorists. But although these deaths, the violence, and the funerals were widely covered on television, the admission that these “martyrs” were known terrorists was relatively unreported and underemphasized.

How does the media not know that Hamas has been busing families to the border and paying them $100 to “demonstrate”-i.e. to serve as human shields? Has any reporter thought to question why parents are bringing children to a violent and dangerous situation? A Palestinian rioter was quoted as saying, “They tell women to go forward. They say to the woman: ‘Go ahead, you are a woman, and the Israeli army does not shoot at women. They tell small children: Go ahead, the army does not shoot at small children.’ They tell a child to go ahead and he goes, it’s a little boy. They deceive him….”

Question: How is the media so easily deceived?

Palestinians are masters of manipulating our media to serve their own ends, even at the cost of their own people’s suffering and death. In fact, one writer points out, terrorist groups, like Hamas, “ hope — not without reason — that many journalists will ignore evidence and obfuscate facts in their quest to treat Palestinians as props for their anti-Israel ledes. Indeed, they’re counting on it.” One example is the deaths of 3,685 Palestinians killed in the Syrian conflict. While Hamas trumpets Gaza’s daily death tolls, ensuring their appearance on the evening news, what coverage have you seen of these 3,685 Palestinians who died by Arab hands? The world protests on behalf of Palestinians only when they are killed by Israel.

Question: How is the media itself complicit? Within the industry, it is recognized that media bias against Israel plays a significant role in thwarting accurate reporting. But is the average consumer aware of this?

Prominent Israeli Arab journalists are, perhaps, the most credible sources of information about anti-Israel bias. Bassem Eid, born in a Palestinian refugee camp, simply states, “We know journalists…are either pro-Palestinian or…pro-Israeli…the media…[has] become…part of the conflict rather than…part of the solution.” An even stronger indictment of western media comes from Khaled Abu Toameh, also an Israeli Arab. After years of working for distinguished outlets such as NBC, BBC, and others, he became frustrated by their refusal to report stories “…that do not have an anti-Israel angle to them [or] reflect negatively upon Israel.”

Because this bias is so underreported, it is important to briefly note that other journalists covering the Middle East have also remarked upon it. Hunter Stuart says, “It was immediately obvious to me that most of these [news] organizations wanted news that would highlight the suffering of Palestinians and lay the blame on Israel for that suffering.” In an article titled, Yes, Many Journalists Choose Sides in a Conflict—and Often for the Worst Reasons, Zenobia Ravji writes, “… I came to realize that to be considered… successful… by the Western media, a journalist must stick to an acceptable script… this means portraying Israel and the Jews as the bad guys, and the Palestinians and the PA as the good guys. If you don’t do this, you are professionally ostracized.”

Why do we never hear these perspectives when they are apparently so widespread and accepted as “given” within the industry?

We recently witnessed a striking example of the hand-in-glove relationship between Hamas and the media. Hamas’ call for demonstrations was timed to occur at the same moment as the United States opening of its embassy in Jerusalem. This was fully exploited by American television outlets using a split screen. One side of the screen depicted the joyful Jerusalem celebration while the other side showed violence, misery and death as angry mobs provoked Israeli soldiers and used all their power to infiltrate Israel’s borders.

There it was, the media’s favorite visual–Israeli Goliaths, pitiful Palestinians.

Question: Why has there been no reference to the IDF’s “graduated” response to Hamas’ attack? As they have in other conflicts, the IDF uses every available means-airdropping leaflets, radio, social media-to warn Gazans to stay away from the fence. They ask bus owners not to transport people there. When mobs mass anyway, they try tear gas. Then, warning shots are fired over the heads of rioters and “only where absolutely necessary… they aim to disable rather than kill.” Why is this not being reported? Why are there no interviews with Israeli military spokespersons who could explain what the soldiers are doing?

Question: What does this “demonstration” look like from the Israeli side?

One Israeli soldier, Kinley Tur Paz, writes, “A situation where thousands of people rush you is frightening, even terrifying…” especially when they bear guns, explosives, Molotov cocktails, wire cutters, burning tires and blinding mirrors, all intended to create chaos and to ensure innocent people on both sides are killed.

Most of the soldiers defending Israel are in their teens and early twenties, just out of high school. They know the nation is relying upon them to save it and to do so honorably.

Tur Paz continues, “I want to testify that what I saw and heard was a tremendous, supreme effort from our side, to prevent in every possible way Palestinian deaths and injuries.

“Of course, the primary mission was to prevent hundreds of thousands of Gazans from infiltrating into our territory. That kind of invasion would be perilous, mortally dangerous to the nearby communities, would permit terrorists disguised as civilians to enter our kibbutzim and moshavim, and would leave us with no choice but to target every single infiltrator.

That’s why our soldiers were directed to prevent infiltration – in a variety of ways, only using live ammunition as a last resort.”

Final Question: Why has no one asked Israel’s many critics, “What would you do if your borders were threatened by a hostile mob bent upon tearing out your hearts?”

(References furnished upon request)

About the Author
Dr. Judith Davis is a wife, mother, grandmother and a retired clinical and organizational psychologist, graduate of Hadassah Leadership Academy. Having spent a lifetime studying individuals, groups and other human systems, she is an irreverent observer of details that may be unremarkable to others.
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