The Collegian misrepresents Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Highlighting the importance of articulation on this crucial topic.
According to my count, The Collegian has made indications about the ongoing genocide in Gaza in only seven articles since Israel launched its full-scale and illegal demolition of Gaza four months ago: Oct. 16, twice on Oct. 23, Oct. 30, Nov. 13 and twice on Feb. 19. Much like the American media, most of the articles written in the news segment have not accurately reported on the genocide in Gaza and have made it seem as though this genocide is a normal everyday activity in Gaza. The article on Nov. 13 wrote, “the conflict between Israel and Gaza is nothing new” and does not care to explain why it is “nothing new.” It does not explain that in 2018-19, during the peaceful protests along the wall in Gaza known as the March of Return, in which Gazans asked for an end to the illegal blockade and the UN-established right of return, Israel opened fire, murdering 214 innocents including 46 children and injuring upwards of 36,100, including around 8,800 children, simply for asking for their rights.
It does not discuss how in 2014, Israel launched an attack on Gaza because they thought Hamas kidnapped three illegal Israeli settlers in the West Bank, who were settlers, meaning their presence in the West Bank was illegal. Israel’s attacks killed over 2,100 Palestinians in Gaza. Furthermore, although Israel believed the perpetrators to be Hamas, it was not. Rather, it was a group within the West Bank, another occupied territory, that kidnapped the illegal settlers with the intent to do a prisoner exchange to free some of the Palestinians who were taken hostage by Israel and held illegally. Yet, thousands of innocent Gazan civilians paid the price.
The article does not care to discuss Israel’s theft of Palestinian taxes after the 2006 Gaza election because they were upset that the party they wanted did not win, nor does it care to illuminate the fact that the US and Israel tried to change the results of that election by telling Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, to call for another election. Israel says it pulled out of Gaza in 2005, however, they retained a strict blockade over the area, leading experts to call it an open-air prison. The details over this blockade include the fact that 97% of Gaza’s water before Oct. 7 was declared unfit for human consumption, that Palestinians were forbidden from going farther than 15-20 nautical miles into their sea, that Israel controls rainwater and forbids Gazans from collecting it, that, even in times of “peace” and “ceasefire” Israel still fires on Palestinian civilians, and many more atrocities Israel has committed to Gazans, yet this is never discussed.
It fails to explain that at the heart of every single “conflict” that has happened in Gaza since Israel’s involvement has been because of Israel. Because Israel broke ceasefires, creates blockades and is the occupying force. Not Hamas. This lack of explanation leaves the statement written in the Nov. 13 article ambiguous and allows people to recall what they have heard about the Middle East to fill in the blanks, and because the mainstream media reports on the Middle East as though it is a savage place, people will assume that the numerous “conflicts” were because of Palestinians when, in fact, they were not. Palestinians are the occupied people. They are the ones facing the brunt of apartheid. The ones who are killed at the whims of an Israeli soldier and whose rights are denied consistently. They are the ones who have been facing a brutal occupation for over 75 years because several colonial authorities decided their lives were only a price to pay for a foothold in the Middle East. Their oppression is not their fault, yet the article refuses to make this clear.
In the final paragraph of this same article, it says, “once Israel’s invasion grants them full control of Gaza, they will have to deal with the issue of what to do next… Hamas has put Israel into an impossible situation.” Perhaps this was not clear by the fact that Israel’s invasion of Gaza is illegal under international law, but Israel does not have to invade Gaza, as these statements make it seem. They shouldn’t invade Gaza. It’s illegal. Furthermore, Hamas has not put Israel in this situation; Israel did it to itself. All Israel has to do to stop the violence is to stop the violence. Contrary to popular belief, Hamas is not the one that breaks ceasefires. Israel is. The reason Hamas launched the Oct. 7 counterattack was because Israel launched an attack on Gaza, but because only Hamas’ counterattack was reported by American media and people did not care to delve into the history of the “conflict,” they began seeing the attack as unprovoked and isolated — a Hamas break of the ceasefire. This article, or at least this statement, further cements this false notion.
The article concludes by saying, “whatever the outcome, the balance of power in the Middle East and the world has shifted.” Whether or not this is true can be understood by reflecting on who held power in the Middle East and the world before Oct. 7 and where this power will likely remain. In the Middle East, Israel has the greatest concentration of power due to the US, which holds the greatest world power, and this dynamic will likely remain. Thus, the balance of power in the Middle East and the world has not shifted. This statement implies that Palestinians had some kind of power and authority when they did not. The two — Palestine and Israel — are not on an equal playing field. One has an arsenal with nuclear weapons given by the United States and is constantly funded by it while the other has rocks. The proof of their difference in power is endless. One is the oppressed and the other the oppressor. It is dishonest to indicate otherwise.
Another article written on Oct. 30 mentions the bombing of Al-Ahli hospital, which Israel denied was because of them back when they thought people would care if they committed a war crime. The article states, “independent experts have found Israel’s story” that the destruction was from a failed rocket launch from Gaza “to be credible.” However, this is not true. The evidence is as follows:
1. According to those who have served in the military and handled explosives, the sound of the explosion was consistent with that of a Joint Direct Attack Munition, which was created by and produced in the US and given to Israel. Unless someone would be willing to argue that the US is giving Palestinian groups weapons, it is clear that the weapon used was from Israel’s arsenal.
2. Israel’s evidence rested on Al-Jazeera footage that they claim shows the explosion was launched from Gaza. Al-Jazeera investigated this claim and found that “Israeli statements seem to have misinterpreted the evidence to build a story that one of the flashes recorded by several sources was a rocket misfire” and “that the flash Israel attributed to a misfire was… consistent with Israel’s Iron Dome missile defen[s]e system intercepting a missile.”
3. A video posted of a building hit in Israel by Hamas shows that the building was still standing and only a few windows — not even all of them — were broken, which begs the question: how is it possible that a Hamas, or any other Palestinian group, rocket did so much damage to Al-Ahli but minimal damage to a building in Israel?
4. Israel has a history of targeting civilians and civilian sites, calling it a Hamas misfire, and then quietly admitting that it was them months later. For instance, Israel targeted Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, a US citizen, blamed Hamas for killing her, then quietly released a report months later that it was, in fact, Israel who killed her.
5. Israel “warned” (threatened) Gazans to leave the hospital, in which many were taking refuge after Israel destroyed their homes and other safe spots, and its surrounding areas. Why would Israel tell them to leave a perceived safe spot unless they knew the spot was no longer going to be safe?
6. Israel took credit for the bombing of Al-Ahli soon after it was bombed. It was only later, after backlash, that they blamed Hamas.
7. Israel has no qualms now about bombing hospitals and consistently takes credit for it.
The first six pieces of evidence were available at the time the article was published in The Collegian. The only evidence that Israel had was the debunked Al-Jazeera video and a track record of blaming Hamas, yet the article still stated that there was a lack of evidence and that Israel’s claims were more credible than this mound of evidence.
Aside from the fact that most of the news articles were lacking, only two articles discussing the ongoing genocide and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people were in commentary. Under normal circumstances, I would agree that because people understand that genocide is bad, they do not find it necessary to state their opinion because genocide is bad. But, people deny that this is a genocide. They even deny that Palestinians and Palestine have existed and still exist. The notion of a nation called Palestine is so controversial that people claim it is made up even though when the British colonized Palestine and, under false authority, allowed Europeans to move to Palestine, they called the land Palestine. They gave out Palestinian passports. The idea that there are a people called Palestinians is so threatening that their existence is denied, yet when Israel declared its existence and committed the Nakba, the mass murder and expulsion of half the Palestinian population and thievery of 80% of the land, which is illegal as murder and land theft are crimes, it was reported that Palestinians were driven out and murdered. Still, despite centuries of culture and civilization, which is still preserved to this day, people claim that they do not exist or that the land was never Palestine. Their very presence goes against the structure that has allowed for their genocide to the degree that their existence has become resistance. Palestinians need people’s acknowledgement to combat this. They need people to see what they have had to endure for not just these four months but for over 75 years. They need people to witness the atrocities and share their stories. The West has made it so that they have to post photos and videos of their children with their heads blown off and parents carrying their children’s limbs in bags because that is all that remains of them. It has taken away Palestinians’ ability to mourn in peace because they have to showcase these horrific images to get people to care about and acknowledge what they are going through and to humanize them in the slightest. The least you could do is acknowledge their suffering and talk about it.
In addition to these articles which report on the Gazan genocide but fail to include that what happening in Gaza is, in fact, a genocide, there was one article posted in the news segment on Oct. 23 calling Israeli’s genocide against the Palestinians the “Israeli crisis” with no mention of what this crisis is. The words used to describe events are significant. Throughout this article, I have been ensuring that I state that what is happening in Gaza to Palestinians is both vile and illegal under international law. Yet, despite the countless videos and pictures that have come out of Gaza since Oct. 7 and were available for people to view when this article was written on Oct. 23, despite the gore and the testimony, the sounds of explosions and screams as people try to find their loved ones, the article chose to call the violence perpetrated by Israel against Palestinians the “Israeli conflict,” thus centering Israel in the genocide they are committing and not bothering to once mention the Palestinian people in their genocide.
In conclusion, many of the articles concerning Palestine published in The Collegian thus far have not only been inaccurate and uninformed but harmful to Palestinians and, more generally, the Middle East. Aside from simply not covering such a crucial topic (this is genocide, remember?), they play on the racist stereotype that war and genocide are everyday activities in the Middle East through their word choice and have an extreme lack of contextualization, which further perpetuates the notion that Palestinians are the ones to blame for their genocide and Israel’s lack of care for international law. Whether this extraordinary harmful coverage was intentional or accidental, I hope the authors pay more attention to their phrasing in the future and spend more time considering the full impact of their words. Hopefully now that the International Court of Justice has stated Israel is committing genocidal acts, with the United Nations writing, “Palestinians ha[ve] a right to be protected from acts of genocide” and that it calls “on Israel to ‘take all measures within its power’ to prevent such actions,” wording and coverage in The Collegian will improve and more people will be willing to increase reporting in news and share their thoughts on the brutal occupation and genocide of Gaza.

Post Author: Heba Saleh