It’s no secret that the mainstream American media is biased when it comes to covering the assault on Gaza. On July 7, a few days after the start of the Muslim holy month, Ramadan, Israel began a military offensive called “Operation Protective Edge.” Since then over 1,400 Gazans have been killed and over 8,000 injured. The bombings shook Gaza for the third time since 2005. Countries around the globe took to the streets in their kuffiyehs and Palestinian flags to protest Israel’s brutal attacks against the innocent lives, advocating for the Palestinians’ human rights. But the one thing that has been proven again and again is the media’s blind support and sympathy to Israel’s ‘right to defend itself.’ Not only was Gaza deprived of their rights by Israel, but they were also silenced by the media.
Ahmed Hamad, a Palestinian from Gaza currently living in Chicago and who has lost six family members since the start of the attacks, knows this too well as he experienced the bias of the Chicago media firsthand. Hamad was interviewed by CBS News last Monday to talk about living in America with family members in Gaza. The interview continued for fifteen minutes yet the final video included 15 seconds where Hamad was cut off midsentence. Hamad describes the experience,
“[…] the situation is that we already feel attacked and we already feel not protected and not appreciated in a sense. And then for news to come and talk to me for twenty minutes and ask me to open up about how I feel about it and then be treated this way was very unfair, it was very insensitive and not human of them. It seemed obvious to me that the person who cut it, cut it for a reason.”
After the interview aired, Hamad received a call from the reporter apologizing for the quick cut and Hamad’s limited airtime, claiming it was the choice of the producer. She also apologized saying ‘we didn’t mean to come off as pro-Israel.’
“I wasn’t surprised but I was shocked of how insensitive the mainstream media is towards Palestinians, especially the ones that are struggling.” Hamad says.
The reporter also interviewed Deb Zaluda, whose daughter is currently serving in the Israeli military. Zaluda also voiced her concern of safety towards her daughter. However, Zaluba’s interview had an obviously longer time.
Hamad wasn’t the only one to receive bias treatment from Chicago media. Deanna Othman, Palestinian-American journalist, was also interviewed by CBS News. Unlike Hamad, Othman received no air time at all. The producer called Othman to apologize and say ‘we didn’t mean to offend you.’ Othman later received a call saying it will air later in the day, but when the time came, again, the footage wasn’t available.
This has become a reoccurring theme of silencing Palestinians at such a critical time. What ever happened to the Palestinian voice? And their stories?
One of the biggest misconceptions that the media does is paint these attacks as equal. Yet the media is anything but equal in their coverage of the assaults on Gaza. Time after time, the media has misrepresented the Palestinians. From Diane Sawyer to Rula Jebreal and even to changing the headline of the four young children killed on the beach of Gaza, the media has proven itself bias. Balance and equal voices are necessary in the media and journalism as a whole. What happened to ‘sticking with the facts?’
Although Othman wrote about balance and objectivity she was still disappointed by her experience and when asked about ways to improve the representation of Palestinians she said, “Seek out more opportunities to do another story. There are plenty of stories out there.”
Chicago is home to more Palestinians than anywhere else around the country. Finding a story, a voice, and an accurate representation of Palestinians is not difficult. In times like these giving the Palestinians a voice is crucial. The public needs to be aware of the robbed humanity of Gaza. It’s the first step in ending the ongoing siege. A proper education and awareness of the Palestinian struggle is needed. It’s the least the Chicago media can do for the Palestinians.
There are plenty of ways to raise the Palestinian voice- campaigns and seeking out Palestinians by establishing platforms to release stories from individuals are all ways to counter the bias. Social media is also another tool in informing and educating the public about Palestine.
To see more ways to help end the siege on Gaza and raise awareness please visit http://www.stopisrael.net.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Chicago Monitor’s editorial policy.