Have you ever had a conversation with someone about Israel and found them voicing disapproval of Israel and their treatment of the Palestinians? Or perhaps you’ve had your own doubts about the whole situation and how Israel is treating the Palestinian people?
Unless you live in the Middle East and your perspective has been formed by first-hand experiences or in-person conversations, your impression of Israelis, Palestinians, and the relationship between them has likely been shaped by the headlines that you’ve read on the internet or watched on the news.
The Extraordinary Power of Headlines
It’s no secret that the technological advances of the last few decades have revolutionized the way that we interact with the world. Unprecedented amounts of information are now available right at our fingertips. Every day, you and I have no lack of articles to read, videos to watch, and websites to scroll through.
When it comes to current world events, there are tens of thousands of articles published to the internet every day. We don’t have time to read everything we come across and often resort to skimming articles, or even just the headlines of articles, to get the gist of what’s going on around the world. This invests significant influence in those one-line summaries that are in bold typeface at the top of each article.
Unfortunately, journalism about Israel provides one of the most extreme examples of how the power of headlines can be misappropriated for political and ideological aims.
Examples of Recent Israel News Headlines
On November 17, 2021, a Palestinian walking past two Israeli policeman in Jerusalem suddenly turned and attacked them from behind with a knife, stabbing both officers. The Palestinian was shot and killed by security forces. An article was published the same day by The Associated Press with the headline, “Israeli police: Palestinian teen fatally shot after stabbing.”
Why is the focus of the headline on the Palestinian teen being fatally shot? Why does it leave the reader to make assumptions about who was stabbed––the police or the Palestinian teen? And although using the word “teen” is technically accurate, does the Associated Press realize that publishing the word “teen” alongside “fatally shot” is much more likely to evoke a sense of compassion than if they were to accurately identify him as a criminal or terrorist?
A few days later, on November 21, an Arab terrorist opened fire in the streets of Jerusalem, murdering Israeli tour guide Eliyahu Kay and injuring several others. ABC News published an article with the headline, “Jerusalem holy site shooting leaves one dead, four injured.”
Again, the headline is technically accurate, but what is the underlying bias and sentiments that it communicates to readers? Why do they fail to mention the fact that it was a terrorist attack by a member of Hamas, and that the man who died was an innocent Jewish civilian?
On December 4, 2021, security forces killed an Arab terrorist who attempted to murder a Jewish civilian at a crosswalk. Daily Mail reported, “Israeli Security Forces Shoot Palestinian Man Dead in Jerusalem.”
On December 6, 2021, a sixteen-year-old Palestinian boy rammed a car into a manned army checkpoint. A security guard opened fire and shot him. He was taken to an Israeli hospital in Kfar Saba and treated, but later died of his gunshot wounds. One news headline read, “Israeli forces martyr Palestinian teenager over alleged car-ramming attack in occupied West Bank.”
These are the kind of headlines that people around the world see, and unfortunately, the ones that end up forming the opinions of many people when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Three Ways to Make Violent Terrorism More Heroic
Many of today’s well-known news networks seem to have perfected the art of penning headlines that are technically accurate, yet warp the event to benefit the Palestinian national cause, show Israel’s government in the worst light possible, and avert the focus from the Jewish people who were injured or killed.
Three commonly used methods of justifying Palestinian violence and shifting the blame on Israel are:
This is a fancy-sounding word that means “taking things out of context.” They emphasize one part of the story that helps prove an ideological point, while leaving out important details that would undermine the idea they want to communicate to readers.
An example is when CBS News reported on the 2016 terrorist attack at Damascus Gate where three Palestinian attackers armed with automatic weapons, knives, and explosives killed a female border police officer. Their headline audaciously read, “3 Palestinians killed as daily violence grinds on.”
Many article headlines will report details from an event, but will do so in an unclear way that leaves the reader unsure of who the victim was and who the perpetrator was. Ambiguous headlines often give readers the idea that Israelis and Palestinians were equally at fault for the incident.
For example, a CNN headline was published that read, “4 Israelis, 2 Palestinians dead in Jerusalem.” They failed to note that the two Palestinians were the terrorists who entered a Jerusalem synagogue and murdered four Jews.
3. Unequal Juxtaposition
This news headline technique makes a shocking, abominable crime seem more appropriate by comparing it to an injustice being endured by the perpetrator. For example, just last week, a fourteen-year-old Palestinian girl attacked a Jewish mother, Moriah Cohen, and attempted to stab her to death in front of her children. This Reuters article was published on December 8, 2021 with the following headline: “Palestinian girl facing Jerusalem eviction held on suspicion of stabbing Jewish neighbour.”
Efforts are Underway to Increase Pro-Palestinian News
Given all these examples of articles that clearly have a pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel bias, you’d think that anti-Israel activists would be content with their achievements in the realm of Middle East journalism, but they’re actually not.
Believe it or not, a number of articles have come out this year accusing Facebook of a pro-Israel bias and complaining of an anti-Palestinian bias in United States news. A case study was even released this year from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology supposedly confirming an anti-Palestinian bias in American news coverage by companies such as The New York Times and encouraging future reporting that is more supportive of the Palestinians and less supportive of Israel.
Why is Israel News so Biased?
The “why” behind these appalling headlines and biased articles is not necessarily a simple answer, but we believe a few of the reasons are:
- Anti-Semitism and general animosity towards the Jewish people that has been on the rise in both Europe and North America.
- Intimidation and threats that some journalists face from Palestinian leaders and activists that coerce them into condemning Israel in the media.
- The tendency of the media industry to find drama, excitement, and ultimately profits in telling the story of an underdog who overcomes and succeeds despite the odds being stacked against them. For a journalist, it makes for a perfect story to take to print, and for opportunistic Palestinian leaders, it makes for a perfect way to capture the world’s sympathies in their war against the Jews. This idea is explored in depth in a highly recommended book by journalist Shraga Simmons titled David and Goliath.
- The Bible says that Israel is the apple of God’s eye (Deuteronomy 32:10 and Zechariah 2:8). He has made an everlasting covenant with the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and has declared that the land of Israel belongs to them forever (Genesis 17:8). The battle for truth has been waged from the beginning of time and digital journalism is one of today’s battlefields where we must take a stand and fight for truth.
What You Can Do About It
Every author, every article, and every news source that you find will be biased in one way or another. Here at The Israel Guys, our bias, or “lens” that we look through, is a biblical one that is based on our belief in God’s everlasting covenant to give the land of Israel to the Jewish people.
That doesn’t mean we encourage unfair or one-sided reporting. In fact, we make an effort to go to both Jewish and Palestinian towns, talk with the locals, and give you an authentic on-the-ground report from Israel’s heartland. But when it comes down to how we tell our stories and the worldview behind it, we are unashamedly pro-Bible and pro-Israel.
As you read articles on the internet – whether from The New York Times, CNN, or The Israel Guys – don’t be afraid to ask questions, cross-check things with other sources, and find out if there’s another side to the story. And when you talk about Israel with your friends, coworkers, or people in passing, invite them to challenge articles and news sites that downplay terrorism and attempt to justify violence and murder. Don’t let biased headlines be the basis for your opinions about the Middle East.