The linguistic engineering in framing the 11th day of Israel’s bombing of Palestine by so-called Western Media plays an important role in shaping public opinions and social relations across the world.
The linguistic engineering in framing the 11th day of Israel’s bombing of Palestine by so-called Western Media plays an important role in shaping public opinions and social relations across the world. The readership of these media houses is comparatively higher and is considered to be an accountable and reliable source of news.
A story headline reads “Clashes in Jerusalem and West Bank amid protests and strikes” in one of the leading western media outlets, The Guardian. Analyzing the semantics of the word ‘Clashes’, it refers to, the confrontation between two equally proportioned armed bodies. This is clearly not the case with Israeli violence against Palestine, there is a glaring imbalance of power with innocent Palestinians being unarmed and defenseless. Usage of such an expression by these western media only whitewashes the ruthless carnage and brutality caused by Israel and portrays Palestinians as equally armed and powerful.
The production and circulation of such narratives taking place at these western media houses often enable and legitimize the colonial tactics of displacement and domination. According to an article by the world’s most prestigious media organization BBC, titled ‘Israel-Gaza Violence: The Conflict Explained’- The article reports how from 1947 onwards Israel began to occupy Palestinian lands, taking the 1947 demographics of Palestine as its starting point. This not only erases the history of displacement occurring prior to 1947 but also somehow seeks to neutralize the idea of Israel being a settler colony and displacing the indigenous people. All colonizing forces have resorted to religious narratives to justify their actions.
“For Jews, it was their ancestral home, but Palestinian Arabs also claimed the land and opposed the move”- This statement is made with reference to the religious narrative. According to the Jews, it was their “natural” home because it is the same place that King Solomon had promised a temple for god. However, this statement not only erases the Muslim’s religious association which is that this is also the same place from where their last Prophet has ascended into heaven, but also gives more Leverage to the colonizer’s narrative as discussed above.
CNN’s report on the Israeli war runs along the same lines. Usage of words such as clashes, tensions, evictions, erases the alternative history that comprises of thousands of Palestinian lives and their losses. The following quotations are from a report on May 21 when the Israeli army attacked the mosque again following what they alleged was retaliation against Palestinians who were throwing stones:
- “Israeli security forces and Palestinian worshipers clash in the Al Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem on Friday”
- “Palestinian families are facing eviction”- The word eviction is being used by many media websites and this is not the correct term for eviction implies the removal of the tenant from the landowner’s property. The property, in this case, belongs to the Palestinian people, and removing them from their own land is not eviction but a state-sanctioned land theft
The New York Times also has failed in providing an unbiased narrative to the Palestinian’s suffering. One of the reports by the New York Times published on May 10 said, “militants in Gaza responded by firing a barrage of rockets at Jerusalem, drawing Israeli airstrikes in return”. Words like ‘militants’ not only obscures the Palestinian struggle behind Hamas’ broad layer of violence but also gives into the global Islamophobic narrative, which even though has attracted a lot of criticism, is still being used by many independent countries to justify a lot of state-sanctioned terrorism. Examples would be Uighur Muslims of China, and minority Muslims of India.
People are more drawn towards visual representations. Visual narratives by western media often reflect aggressors as victims and victims as aggressors. For instance- the following images appeared on Reuters on May 7.
The above contrasting pictures highlight the Palestinian offensiveness and undermine the atrocities sanctioned by the Israeli state.
Apart from the misleading accounts on anti-Palestine, anti-Hamas, dominating Palestinian offensiveness, and normalization of colonial violence and power, Western media have also fallen short in getting the Palestinians a human face and agony. They are highly dependent on grabbing official statements from Israel Defence Force and Israeli Politicians.