Racism in the Western Media Coverage of Palestinians

Category: Middle East, World Affairs Topics: Conflicts And War, Occupation Views: 4908

Racism is "the belief that one 'racial group' is inferior to another and the practices of the dominant group to maintain the inferior position of the dominated group. Often defined as a combination of power, prejudice and discrimination."

This is how the British Library defines racism on its Web site. The above definition hardly deviates from the essence of almost all definitions of the ominous concept. And, indeed, the concept is being fully utilized with Israel's onslaught against the Palestinians, and the international community and media's mild, if not accommodating response to the onslaught.

The capture of Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit is an act of self-defense. 

According to international law and the Geneva Conventions, he can be considered a prisoner of war, but not according to CNN, Fox News and the increasingly spineless BBC, which presents the soldier as a victim, who was "kidnapped" by Palestinian "militants" who are "affiliated" with the Hamas government.

By not challenging the Israeli narrative in any meaningful way, the uncritical media has become a tool in the hands of Israel's war strategists and their eternal concoctions.

Consider this example. An Israeli military commander tells a BBC correspondent dispatched to the border area between Israel and Gaza, that Israel intends on opening the border for "as long as it takes" to offset the humanitarian crisis developing in Gaza. The Israeli Army representative in a barefaced lie declares that the border has always been open, despite the perpetual Palestinian threat on the state of Israel. The BBC correspondent thanks him and signs off.

Is it possible that the BBC is unaware of the fact that Gaza has been under a strict military siege since Hamas' democratic advent to power through the January 2006 elections? Could it be that the Western media has missed the dozens of shocking reports that have warned that the Israeli siege -- which began months before the capture of Shalit -- was soon to create chaos and panic among the already malnourished Palestinians in Gaza? Did they all miss statements by top Israeli officials vowing to carry on with the siege until the outset of Hamas?

Some reporters misrepresent facts out of ignorance, not by design. But if that indeed was the case, then how can one excuse the fact that the same media that coined the term "kidnapping" to describe the action of the Palestinian fighters who captured Shalit refused to use the same association to describe the kidnapping of most of the elected Palestinian Cabinet, mostly academics with no connection to any militant wing?

Israel's military spokesman insisted that they are "all terrorists" and Israel, "like any democratic" country has the right to protect itself against terrorists. If that was true, why did Israel refrain from kidnapping them until Palestinian fighters embarrassed the Israeli Army and captured their first prisoner of war in a long time? Is "rounding up" Palestinian ministers and scores of legislators the same as having a soldier captured in what has been for long a one-sided Israeli war?

If you are an avid viewer of Fox News or a reader of the New York Times, then Israel is yet to exceed its legitimate legal boundaries: that of a democracy opting to defend its citizens. But only racism can lead to such rationale. Only a racist media portrays the capture of a soldier whose army units have besieged Gazans for years, denying them food and medicine, as a violation of all that is holy. Only a racist media presents the kidnapping of 9,000 Palestinians, now in Israeli jails, as a just outcome of Israel's routine arrests of Palestinian terrorists or potential terrorists. Only racism can play down the Israeli destruction of Gaza's infrastructure, which is justified without question, for such actions are necessary to impede the militants' efforts.

And yet, Israel is praised for its "generous" act of allowing some food to be transferred to Gazans, who ironically have gone hungry because of the Israeli-spearheaded international campaign to punish Palestinians for electing Hamas.

Only racism can completely remove from the current discourse the murder of dozens of Palestinian civilians at the hands of the Israeli Army (90 civilians in seven weeks) as the reason that led to the Palestinian raid on the Israeli Army post and the capture of Shalit, and instead depict the current escalation as if it was entirely the work of the Palestinians, with Israel's slate still clean.

Indeed, Israel's slate will continue to be clean as long as racism and inequality are the concepts according to which this conflict is explained. 
Israel has the right to do all the above actions without hesitation because Israel is not Palestine, and the lives and well being of the residents of Israel, at least some of them, cannot be equated with Palestinians. Turn the tables for a moment and you'll understand how repellent such racism is.

Inequality has always been at the heart of this conflict, the late professor Edward Said used to say. Racism is at the heart of inequality, I must add. The media can be ignorant, biased and self-serving, indeed, but it can also be utterly racist.

American-Arab journalist Ramzy Baroud is the author of The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People's Struggle (Pluto Press, London).

  Category: Middle East, World Affairs
  Topics: Conflicts And War, Occupation
Views: 4908

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Older Comments:

D. THOMAS said:
Hudd in his post says; 'But then the Zionists call the Palestinians anti-Semites, how is that possible?'. Yes I agree with you it is wrong for the Palestinians to be called anti-Semites! See I agree with you. It is important to use the proper and correct words, if we are to discuss and find solutions to problems.

And your other comments about the teachings of Jesus, I believe would be good for everybody to contemplate. Thank you for that comment.

In return verse 109 1 to 6 is equally good in the Koran!

However you refute my allegations of religion being the basis of the problem but your argument doesn't prove that it isn't.

The teaching of induced hatred is very high in the Muslim world, and especially in the ME. Do I have to give examples. I think you know of them.

Hudd you ask me to say something nice about Muslims, and the Muslims that I know of personally are all good people, and I have no problem with them, and them me.

Oh my, Doubtful Thomas, you saw the problem clearly, RELIGION, eh? How dumber can you get, not much more than Daniel Pipes.

"The problem in the Middle East is not one of racism, but one of RELIGION. How far off can you get, not much more then Ramzy Baroud."
Listen carefully, Thomas, the problem in the ME is that of occupation. An imperialistic power, USA, that uses an ideology, Zionism, to fanaticize a people, the Jews, to serve their agenda. Obviously, without the element of induced hatred, the Israeli-Palestinian crisis would have been solved long time ago. It started well with the two state proposed solution by UN. Only that USA and the fanatics from among the Zionists thought, why not all the 'promised' biblical land? From Nile to Euphratus would be nice. USA said, it's possible, let's dehumanize the Muslims in general and the Arabs in particular so that when we kill them by the thousands it would just rightly seem that we a ridding the world of evil and of subhumans, enamies to civilization as we know it.

I agree, Jews, Assyrians, Arabs, Amhara, Tigrai, Oromo and others are all Semitic nations, therefore using racism for describing the Israeli apartheit and the Western discrimination would be technically incorrect. But then the Zionists call the Palestinians anti-Semites, how is that possible?

Maybe you are right on the ME media, but as long as there is a fence, you could be on either side of it. It would be really hard and denoting great stamina to be able to roost yourself right atop the fence itself and see reality for what it is.But you can't do that Thomas,can you? Try for once to say something nice about Muslims and Palestinians.Remember your teacher,Jesus the son of Mary,peace be upon him, saying:"Love your enamy and bless those that hate you and pray for them."Maybe if the Christians and the Jews would do that instead of indiscriminately killing the innocent,the Islamists would get shy and ashamed,thus negociations could begin,savvy?

D. THOMAS said:
The problem in the Middle East is not one of racism, but one of RELIGION. How far off can you get, not much more then Ramzy Baroud.

There are many Jews and Muslims that share the same past, genetics and yes race. How can it be racist when both groups for the majority are of the same race.

Maybe the author is right to dislike the Western Media, but he should present better arguements, if he wants to defend his case.

I know if I read Middle East Media, I could make arguements that the media is totaly ignorant, biased and self-serving, but I don't believe it is racist but more then anti other religions!

The reason for this is that There are Muslims, Jews, and Christians of all races!


Actually "northern cross" you dont "think" at all. You comments are largely the product of a vivid imagination fueled by self-obsession and white western mendacity. There is no such thing as a "radical islamist" but the anglo-american judeochristofascist is a reality.

We have elected officials and so called intellectuals who are more loyal to Israel than own country. When you leave 25000 US citizens at the mercy of Israel's bombing, it is very clear where their loyality lies. Though, bias against muslims in western media is not new, but since 9/11 media has become just gutless puppet of the government. The simple effect of all such media coverage is that life of a muslim does not worth anything. Israel can kill civilians in Gaza and Labanon and the whole world will still blame Hizballah and Hamas. The sad truth is that none of other muslim countries raise much awareness of miseries of Palestian and now Labanon.

As Salaamu Alaikum,
Not trying to sound racist, it appears that the state of Israel has learned well from the teacher. The US has a very serious problem of racism which they REFUSE to admit is still in place in the year 2006. I do not find it hard to believe that the child of a racist father would grow up to be racist, to think otherwise is naive. When you think of yourself as superior to someone else you do not think of them as capable of being equal. Insha Allah may Allah make it easy on the believers, open the hearts and minds of those who oppress Insha Allah.
As Salaamu alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatu

I prefer to be anonymous. I know that's unlikely, but it's not too important.

When times get really tough I go to Islamicity, just to see what the "other side" thinks. Not that I view non-Muslims and Muslims as opponents, because I truly don't. It's more in the sense that I never expect to see the Muslim point of view in the mainstream media.

In that light, I've often thought it could change the world if some Saudi prince bought ABC, NBC, or CBS. That would be entertaining to watch. If the ports deal couldn't get through, just imagine the uproar over buying into our media.

I think Americans are fair-minded, if given time and exposure to truth. In this country, it's an almost sacred principle that no one can take your property unwillingly without a just cause and fair compensation. Of course that doesn't apply to the natives, but that's a different story (perhaps).

My point would be that if Americans understood the plight of the Palestinians in the context of property rights, there would be a lot more sympathy for their cause. I think you'd have to buy a TV network to get that story on the air.

Recently I've been thinking both sides should resort to financial incentives to solve this crisis. Perhaps all disputed territory (excepting property of known ownership that should be returned to their rightful owner) should be put up for auction. The highest bidder would get the land, and the unsuccessful bidder would get the cash from the winner. Then we'd really see who values the land the most. Personally, I'd take the cash. I've seen pictures of Palenstine, and there are a lot nicer places. I believe God cares more about even one human life than any piece of land, however much history there is attached to the land. If there were peace, we'd all be free to visit there any way in safety (and that safety in every sense of the word).

I don't believe any one, on either side has a right to violence to effect their agenda.

How true yet despicably sad.

Israel is the mother of terror, being a state which itself sponsors terrorism against whole nations because 2 of its soldiers get captured.

Where's Bush and the US politicians so beholden to the Israeli lobby Goliath, condemnation in that?

Syria might support Hezbollah, but the world's sole superpower with nukes to destroy the world 1,000 times over, unconditionally supports, the Middle Eastern pariah Israel, which itself possesses nukes to wipe out the entire Middle East.

So please, Israeli puppets and their brainwashed supporters from Yeshiva schools don't tell me about terrorism when 2,500,000 Lebanese people (with subpar army, navy, and no air force to defend themselves against Israeli aggression) cower from American made helicopter gunships and bombs as they sleep in their sovereign nation!


Please do not try to do anything; we have US Administration, The Puppet Arab Government, and EU all in our pocket and payroll. We run what they see and read.

I think your web site have to try harder.: ))

Actually, I think prejudice is much worse in many Arab countries than it supposedly is in our media. Perhaps Iviews/Islamicity should do an article on discrimination against non-Arabs and non-Muslims in Arab countries. You know, just to be "unbiased".

Of course, I realize it's rare for radical Islamists like those on this site to stand up to their fellow Muslims on behalf of non-Muslims who have been wronged. Double standards abound.

Chris, my friend can we then on same token say it is war in Iraq as well as Afghanistan? Is it unfair to say we will loose our soldiers as well-for a war the USA should NEVER have gone into? Should we stop to whine?
By the way Israel has the approval of USA (and some others) in this invasion into a democratic country!

Please don't get me wrong, but I think Islamicity has a responsibility and more ab ility than I to right the wrong. Is this something you can follow up on and try to create a Muslim Party that can indeed loudly voice their concerns on the injustices created by all sides: Zionists, Neocons, misguided Muslims, etc. If such party was created, I would be amongst the first one to join and ask others to join as well.

Wa Salaam.

If, as you write, the Israeli soldier is a prisoner of war then logically a war is going on and either side is entitled to fight until they have won. Consequently it is of no use to whine about the fact that Istrael is just doing this and the media report it as such.

However the article should have been titled, "Racism in the Western Media Coverage of Islam and Muslims". Its so frustrating to see the axis of Evil Crusaders, Israel, the US, UK, Russia and Australia, kill, murder, rape, massacre and maim, countless Muslims in every region of the world, yet neither the UN nor NATO nor EU has the courage, honesty and dignity to call out their criminal and murderous policies and actions. Saddest of all the Muslim countries that could have an impact on the policies of this Axis of Evil Crusaders by using oil, nuclear know-how and other resources as a weapon, shamefully look the other way while their fellow Muslims are slaughtered. I feel so very disgusted at the world but take hope that there is Allah's justice, and that will never be denied. Inshallah.