Jul
02
2014

On US TV, Israel is 'Striking Back'

When Israel attacked Palestinian targets following the discovery that three kidnapped Israeli teenagers had been murdered, the way TV outlets characterized the Israel actions on their July 1 newscasts was instructive.

ABC World News and NBC Nightly News adopted the same language:

strikingback

Framing Israel's actions as a form of retaliation is problematic, since the airstrikes, arrests and house raids are directed at people who had nothing to do with the murders. Israel has named two suspects in the crime, Marwan Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Aisha. As the New York Times (7/1/14) and other outlets have reported, these two West Bank residents may not have a significant connection with Hamas, despite the official Israeli insistence that the Hamas government in Gaza should be held responsible for the killings.

It should go without saying that the killings of the Israeli youths do not justify the killing of innocent Palestinians, any more than the six Palestinian children killed by the Israeli military so far this year legitimize the murder of the Israeli teens.

But the US networks nonetheless framed Israel's attacks as retaliation. "The response by Israel was quick and powerful," NBC anchor Brian Williams declared, saying the series of airstrikes in the Gaza Strip were "in apparent retaliation."

An ABC World News report (7/1/14) by correspondent Alex Marquardt began with this: "Striking back. Israel hitting hard overnight with 34 precision airstrikes on a Hamas compound."

As FAIR has noted in the past (Action Alert, 4/4/02), the US media tends to overwhelmingly prefer a narrative of Palestinian attacks and Israeli retaliation. As FAIR noted:

This disparity is meaningful. The term "retaliation" suggests a defensive stance undertaken in response to someone else's aggression. It also lays responsibility for the cycle of violence at the doorstep of the party being "retaliated" against, since they presumably initiated the conflict.

In this case, the brunt of the Israeli "reaction" is being borne by Palestinians who had nothing to do with the crimes that were committed.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.