Anti-Netanyahu Protest Coverage Reveal Racist Media Double-Standards

Thousands of Israelis broke lockdown rules this Saturday to protest their elected Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, resulting in the eruption of clashes, in multiple areas, between police and protesters. However, no deaths or serious injuries were reported, which is unusually strange for Israeli forces when engaging in clashes with demonstrators. So what’s the difference?

The ongoing demonstrations against Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu have been an ongoing trend throughout the past months, drawing quite a large amount of international media attention at times too. The international media has for the most part, been reporting the events unfolding as objectively as possible, not painting the demonstrators as violent savages – as is routinely done when Palestinians are protesting – and even pointing out police violence.

No Israeli protesters have been killed during these demonstrations, many of which have occurred in front of Netanyahu’s own residence and many of which have grown violent. On some occasions demonstrators had even attempted to break through police barricades in order to get to Netanyahu’s home, which one could argue may have posed an immediate threat to the PM, yet no lethal force was used by Israeli police. So what would the situation have looked like if you were to replace these Israeli protesters with Palestinians?

Israeli Police in occupied Jerusalem detain a woman during a protest early on Friday. Photograph: Ammar Awad/Reuters

Well, luckily for us we have many points of reference to look at and learn from. When Gazan, overwhelmingly non-violent, demonstrators protested in their hundreds of thousands beginning on March 30, 2018, in order to demand an end to the Israeli illegally-imposed siege. The Western media, even including outlets such as the BBC, NYT, The Guardian and other trusted outlets claimed that there were ongoing riots and clashes, portraying the demonstrators as being somehow victims of a Hamas led propaganda effort and mass self-sacrifice ceremony. The comparison between the Great Return March coverage and anti-Netanyahu protest coverage could not be a more damning indictment of the Western media.

During Gaza’s demonstrations, which were branded as making up the ‘Great Return March’, over 35,000 Palestinians were injured, thousands with live ammunition. Roughly 330 were also murdered during the period in which the protests took place, by Israeli fire. Included amongst the murdered were women, children, journalists, medics, the elderly and disabled, as outlined in a UNHRC report on the issue, which pointed to evidence that Israeli forces intentionally targeted these protected groups amongst other civilians.

On the other side of the Gaza-Israel separation fence, which the Western Media would have you believe is both a border and was being stampeded during the “violent clashes”, no Israelis were killed and no Israelis sustained any serious injuries. Yet despite the fact that the situation at the Gaza-Israel separation fence was so obviously one sided and included Israeli use of excessive force, amounting to war crimes, somehow the coverage was tipped in favour of the snipers shooting people from a safe distance behind layers of barriers, mounds of dirt, barbed wire, fence and in some cases wall. So why was that? The answer to this question, I believe, is racism.

The racism is two fold, both racism on the part of Israeli forces, which evidently respond to white Israeli citizens in a completely different way than they do Palestinians, but also from the Western media which covers the issue in such an Israeli-partisan way, for the most part. The Western media, which would include the alphabet soup of your well-known print and broadcast media, routinely engage in racist coverage when it comes to the Palestinians.

Palestinians wearing costumes are seen at the Great Return March in the southern Gaza Strip April 5, 2018. © Ibraheem Abu Mustafa © Reuters

Now, one may argue against this point, that the Israeli military was dealing with the Gaza protests and it was Israeli police that were dealing with the anti-Netanyahu protests inside of Israel. To this point, I would refer readers to the case of Iyad, an autistic Palestinian gunned down by Israeli police in Jerusalem back on the 30th of May this year, as well as countless other cases of similar police executions of innocent Palestinians. The Israeli police, not only routinely deal with Palestinians in the most brutal of ways throughout Israel, but also inside of the West Bank, where they are deployed too. For anyone who has visited the Occupied West Bank and stayed there for any serious period of time, you would be used to witnessing the presence of Israeli police at major checkpoints, as well as at some demonstrations.

The truth is, everything Palestinians do is assumed to be violent, even when Israeli Human Rights Groups like B’Tselem had proven beyond a reasonable doubt that excessive force had been used or that a crime had been committed by Israeli soldiers. Every single time a Palestinian is shot, bombed or mortally wounded in some way, the reaction is always to provide a justification, even when there isn’t any. This is a very similar story when it comes to U.S. coverage, when police officers shoot and kill African American’s in the U.S.. The instant presumption, is that the white authority is correct and that the Black individual is at fault.

In the absence of any solid evidence of wrongdoing by a Palestinian in the case of Israeli authorities and a Black man/woman in the case of US authorities, the next step is to start digging up the history of an individual or attempting to tarnish their image. It’s always the same story, the Palestinian was a “terrorist” or the African American was a “thug”.

If Palestinians were to have demonstrated, in large numbers, in front of Netanyahu’s home, just as Israeli protesters have done, and attempted to push through the barricades erected by police, lethal force would not even come with hesitation.

The way the Israeli authorities deal with Israelis protesting and the way the international press report on Israelis protesting, shows you that they know better and can do better. But when you are a racist, brainwashed into always viewing Palestinians as violent creatures, then you behave in a way in which your double-standards shine brighter than ever.

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Robert Inlakesh

Robert Inlakesh is a journalist, writer and political analyst, who has lived in and reported from the occupied Palestinian West Bank. He has written for publications such as Mint Press, Mondoweiss, MEMO and various other outlets. He specialises in analysis of the Middle-East, in particular Palestine-Israel.

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