John Minto: Systemic NZ misreporting on Israeli occupation of Palestine and Palestinian resistance

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Israeli strikes on Gaza in retaliation to the surprise Hamas attacks
Israeli strikes on Gaza in retaliation to the surprise Hamas attacks that followed more than 240 Palestinians - mostly civilians - being killed by Israeli security forces in the past year. Image: TVNZ screenshot/APR

COMMENTARY: By John Minto

The Hamas attack on Israel yesterday has brought the usual round of systemic misreporting by New Zealand news outlets as they repost stories from the BBC, AP and Reuters which bend the truth in favour of Israeli narratives of “terrorism” and “victimhood”.

The worst comes from the BBC which is dutifully reposted by Radio New Zealand.

As we said in a commentary earlier this year the systemic anti-Palestinian in reporting from the Middle East includes:

Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa John Minto
Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa John Minto . . . “‘Occupied’ is the status these Palestinian territories have under international law, United Nations resolutions and NZ government policy, and should be consistently reported as such.” TVNZ screenshot/APR

The BBC, AP and Reuters typically talk about the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem when they should be reported as the occupied West Bank, occupied Gaza and occupied East Jerusalem.

“Occupied” is the status these territories have under international law, United Nations resolutions and NZ government policy and should be consistently reported as such.

The BBC, AP and Reuters typically refer to Palestinians resisting Israel’s military occupation Palestinian “militants” or “terrorists” or similar derogatory and dismissive descriptions.

We would not call Ukrainians attacking Russian occupation forces as “militants” so why do our media think it’s OK to use this term to describe Palestinians attacking Israeli occupation forces?

Palestinian right to resist
Under international law, Palestinians have the right to resist Israel’s military occupation, including armed resistance and should not be abused for doing so by our media.

Palestinian resistance groups should be described as “resistance fighters” or “armed resistance organisations” while Israeli soldiers should be described as “Israeli occupation soldiers”.

The BBC, AP and Reuters typically give sympathetic coverage to Israelis killed by Palestinians but do not give similar sympathetic coverage to Palestinians killed, on a near daily basis, by the Israeli occupation (more than 240 killed so far this year, including dozens of children.

Labour leader and NZ Prime Minister Chris Hipkins
Labour leader and NZ Prime Minister Chris Hipkins . . . New Zealand “condemns unequivocally the Hamas attacks on Israel.” Image: TVNZ screenshot/APR

The vast majority of these killings are simply ignored.

Palestinians are the victims of Israeli apartheid policies, ethnic cleansing, land theft, house demolitions, military occupation and unbridled brutality and yet our media ends up giving the impression it’s the other way round.

Wide coverage is given to Israeli spokespeople in most stories with rudimentary reporting, if any, from Palestinian viewpoints.

For example, so far Radio New Zealand has reported on the views of New Zealand Jewish Council spokesperson Juliet Moses but has yet to interview any Palestinian New Zealanders who suffer great anxiety every time Palestinians are killed by Israel.

Support for self-determination
New Zealanders overwhelmingly support the Palestinian struggle for freedom and self-determination. They rightly reject Israel’s racist narratives and its apartheid policies towards Palestinians.

Our government policy needs to change.

We should not be calling for negotiations between the parties because Palestinians face both Israel and US at the negotiating table and this will never bring justice for Palestinians and will therefore never bring peace.

Killings in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Killings in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict . . . a graph showing the devastating loss of life for Palestinians compared with Israelis in the past 15 years. Source: Al Jazeera (cc)

Instead, we need a timeline for Israel to abide by international law and United Nations resolutions. This would mean:

  • Ending the Israeli military occupation of Palestine;
  • Ending Israel’s apartheid policies against Palestinians, and Allowing Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and land in Palestine

John Minto is national chair of Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa (PSNA).This article was first published by The Daily Blog and is republished with permission.

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