Israel's Media Pressure Tactics: The Strength Of Israel's Right Wing
23 July 2014
By Diana Moukalled
Not long after NBC presenter Ayman Mohyeldin ended his
emotive live report about the tragic killing of four
Palestinian children as they were playing football on
Gaza beach, the NBC hierarchy ordered him home.
Mohyeldin himself had kicked the ball around with the
four Palestinian children before they were killed by
the Israeli air strike. The New York Times initially
ran a story under the headline "Four Young Boys Killed
Playing on Gaza Beach," but the headline was
subsequently toned down to "Boys Drawn to Gaza Beach,
and Into Center of Mideast Strife."
No sooner had CNN reporter Diana Magnay criticized
Israeli settlers in Sderot via Twitter for cheering
the air strikes on Gaza, describing them as "scum" for
threatening her broadcast, than the channel pulled her
off the air. She and CNN have since apologized "for
any offense that may have been taken."
Of course, these incidents are nothing new. They do
not reveal anything new regarding Western, and
particularly American, coverage of Israel. Every
Israeli military escalation is accompanied by a
Right-wing media escalation that aims to incite a loud
and senseless debate regarding who is the aggressor
and who is the victim.
This favoritism enjoyed by Israel in the Western and
American media is only one side of the coin, albeit
one that has dominated the scene and which has been
the status quo throughout more than one war or
conflict. And now we see the current Gaza "war"
returning this Western pro-Israeli discourse to the
fore once again, ignoring the Arab–Palestinian
narrative. The awkward situation many media outlets
have found themselves in as a result does not
represent an Israeli victory; it only serves to
compound the criticism of Israel's actions.
It is true that the New York Times removed the
specifics regarding the four young Palestinian boys
being killed from its amended headline, but the story
remained, along with an accompanying report written by
one of the newspaper's photographers who witnessed the
tragedy. This article by Tyler Hicks, who witnessed
the killing of the four Palestinian boys, ended:
"Children, maybe four feet tall, dressed in summer
clothes, running from an explosion, don't fit the
description of Hamas fighters."
But the New York Times was not been the only media
outlet to be surprised by the scale of the discontent
of Israel's Right wing towards its reporting, amid
Israeli claims of a bias towards the Palestinians.
Regardless of the strength of Israel's Right wing,
criticism of the country escalates the more missiles
it fires and the more Palestinians are killed. However
much the Israelis try to play up the "panic" and
"fear" Israeli settlers feel about Hamas rockets,
their fear cannot be compared with the pictures of 4
innocent children killed on Gaza beach.
The four Bakr boys killed in the attack, Mohammad, 11
or 12, Ismail, 9, Zakariya, 10, and Ahed, 7 or 9, were
playing football on the beach when they were killed in
an Israeli air strike. This tragedy took place in
front of the Deira Hotel, where a number of
international journalists are staying. All of the
journalists reported this story as it happened, and
they were clearly affected. Such tragic events are
beyond Israel's ability to play down, nor can Tel Aviv
pressure media outlets to report this in a certain
way. These events outpace media outlets, and not even
Israel can put an end to social media or Twitter where
not only are these incidents reported fairly; but so
are Israel's attempts to suppress such reporting.
The alternative media is beyond such pressure tactics.
Diana Moukalled is a prominent and well-respected
TV journalist in the Arab world thanks to her
phenomenal show Bil Ayn Al-Mojarada (By The Naked
Eye), a series of documentaries on controversial areas
and topics which airs on Lebanon's leading local and
satelite channel, Future Television. Diana also is a
veteran war correspondent, having covered both the
wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan, as well as the
Isreali "Grapes of Wrath" massacre in southern
Lebanon. Ms. Moukalled has gained world wide
recognition and was named one of the most influential
women in a special feature that ran in Time Magazine