Here’s at brief thought experiment. Imagine if the Israeli government orchestrated a publicity stunt to highlight the plight of Jewish refugees, which entailed thousands of descendants of the 850,000 Jewish refugees from Arab lands violently demonstrating and attempting to infiltrate the borders of Egypt, Syria, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisa, Iraq and Libya, ostensibly to reclaim the lost property and homes and assets of their ancestors.
Is there really any question that the media would be contemptuous of Jerusalem’s cynical exploitation of civilians to score (‘hasbara’) propaganda points, or that they would hold the government responsible for any subsequent loss of life?
Yet, most British media coverage of the violent riots on the Gaza border has failed to critically examine Hamas’s framing of the propaganda stunt known as the “Great Return March as a “peaceful”, civil-rights march to secure their “right of return”, whilst simultaneously downplaying the use of molotov cocktails, IED’s and attempts to cut the fence and infiltrate the border.
On Friday, April 6th, Sky News published a short video accompanying a story by their Middle East correspondent Alex Rossi – which they also tweeted – representing a good illustration of this ongoing media failure.
Thousands are preparing for a violent second week of protests on the Gaza border where the death toll is rising from clashes with troops. Protesters tell us what they're fighting for pic.twitter.com/5H1cxs0jYJ
— Sky News (@SkyNews) April 5, 2018
First, the clip erroneously suggests that the only violence which erupted during the protests were rock-throwing, ignoring the hundreds of Molotov cocktails thrown by Palestinians, the planting of IEDs and – in at least two cases – shots fired at Israeli forces. It also ignores the fact that most of those killed in the initial round of violence were active members of Hamas or other terror groups.
The clip then comically misrepresents the goals of the protesters, claiming that “they just want to go home”, erroneously suggesting that the tens of thousands of Palestinians who participated in the march have ‘homes’ in Israel that they’re being denied the right to return to. A subsequent frame makes this claim more explicitly, when Sky News viewers are told that the protesters are “refugees” who want the “right of return”.
However, as we’ve demonstrated repeatedly on our blog, over 99% of Palestinians who qualify for “refugee” benefits from UNRWA are not actual refugees, but merely descendants (children, grandchildren or great grand children) of refugees from the 1948 War.
Viewers are then told that protesters in Gaza merely desire “peace and justice”, a comically misleading claim in light of Hamas’s stated aim of murdering Jews and annihilating Israel. Another protester is heard falsely alleging that protesters are “not carrying a Molotov, they are not carrying a bomb or a rocket or even anything that relates to terrorism”, a claim clearly contradicted by clips demonstrating the use of firebombs and other forms of violence.
In a mere one minute and twenty seconds, the Sky News clip accurately capsulizes the media’s astonishing credulity when faced with Palestinian soundbites that echo the narrative of a proscribed terror group – representative of a broader institutional failure to contextualise coverage of events in the region by reminding news consumers of the malevolent aims of the Hamas tyrants who rule Gaza.