Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Israel's War on the
Truth in Occupied Palestine
November 13, 2023
Palestinian victims of a genocidal Israeli air strike on the
floor of a hospital, which is no longer
November 12, 2023
Israelís war on truth in occupied Palestine
Malcolm X warned us that the media is the most powerful entity on
earth. It has the power to determine innocence and dictate guilt, but
does it have the power to kill?
Israelís war on truth in occupied Palestine (palinfo.com)
The death toll in Palestine has
surpassed 10,000 and anti-Palestinian violence has made its way to US
soil in the form of anti-Arab hate crimes. The president of the United
States, Israel and the US media have even formed a reciprocal
relationship inventing, parroting and amplifying unverified Ė often
Islamophobic Ė propaganda.
Today, Palestinians are fighting a
two-pronged war ó one on the ground and one in the media. Although the
conflict is recent, beginning in 1948 with the establishment of Israel,
anti-Muslim and anti-Arab tropes are not. The seeds of these ideas were
planted centuries ago during the Crusades. Unfortunately for
Palestinians, fact-checking is not enough to contest narratives that
stem from long before 1948 and the violence of this past month.
Many mainstream outlets, such as the New York Times, CNN and Reuters
have covered disinformation on social media targeting Palestinians.
Ironically, many of these outlets are equally culpable. Several of them,
such as the LA Times, the BBC and CNN have published allegations of mass
rape, the beheading of children and all sorts of barbarism allegedly
committed by Palestinian resistance fighters before evidence was
available, only to retract the reports and admit there was a lack of
proof days later.
Even the IDF could not confirm allegations of
mass rape made by US President Joe Biden, Israeli Prime Minister
Netanyahu and several news outlets.
Ideas about violent Muslims
date back to the Crusades. Muslim men during Christendom were painted as
barbaric, perverted savages. This fervor justified the most brutal
military conquests, including the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition.
Naturally, these tropes extended into enlightenment literature, such as
Danteís Inferno, and nowadays into Hollywood movies, like American
Sniper and You Donít Mess with the Zohan.
These ideas go beyond
entertainment media to color every aspect of our media ecosystem. Ideas
that justified colonialism now justify $14 billion of US military aid to
Israel. The problem is that these ideas are based on a lie.
Disinformation is only as powerful as existing narratives. The narrative
of the bloodthirsty Muslim man is as powerful as it is ancient.
For the viewer aware of this, now-retracted claims of Hamas beheading 40
children showcase the increasingly bold misinformation campaigns that
have no backing or prior instance. Such unrealistic claims are only
believable in a society thatís already been primed for it for centuries.
It also creates a false equivalence between apocalyptic terrorist groups
like Daesh and Al-Qaeda and organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah.
Similarly, recent Zionist claims that Palestinians have baked Israeli
babies alive only bring about memories of the Deir Yassin massacre where
a Palestinian boy was reportedly thrown in an oven by Israeli soldiers,
with no known cases of Palestinian fighters doing this prior nor any
images or corroborating evidence.
Every false claim about
Palestinian resistance puts Palestinians at risk, both in Palestine and
in the diaspora. If the pen is indeed more powerful than the sword, then
the keyboard of Western journalists is a bomb. At the very least, it
further emboldens the US to turn a blind eye toward Israelís bombing of
There is no neutral language in Israel-Palestine. Every
word must be intentional and has meaning. Conflict versus occupation,
Arab versus Palestinian, and terrorist versus freedom fighter, each has
different meanings. They either highlight or obfuscate oppression. They
can either demonstrate the uniqueness and sovereignty of Palestinians or
lump them in with a larger Arab diaspora while misrepresenting the
colonial power structures at play.
Palestine liberation has a
unique place in progressive politics and human rights circles. It is not
because of anti-Semitism, contrary to Zionist slander, or even because
it is the most brutal conflict. It is because Palestinians experience a
unique type of violence ó it is one of the most clear-cut cases of
apartheid and settler colonialism in modern times. The minute this fact
is lost is the minute Palestinians are expected to concede at least some
of their ancestral homeland to Israeli settlers.
why language is so important.
The damage of false
reporting remains long after headlines are retracted. Western leaders
call for more military aid to Israel, the public supports it, and
democracy is subverted over false claims that never held merit. And
Palestinians are subjugated to crimes against humanity that can only be
justified by their dehumanization.
In the case of Palestine, the
war on facts cannot be won through fact checks alone, because mainstream
outlets and even the president of the United States are using the bully
pulpit to repeat blatant lies. The president of the US went on live TV
and lied about seeing pictures of children being beheaded with his own
eyes only to retract his statement hours later. The significance of this
cannot be understated. Whether this is on purpose or by accident, the
result is the same ó the genocide of Palestinians and the corruption of
Biden would then baselessly accuse the Palestinian
Health Ministry in Gaza of lying about the number of Palestinians killed
and also accuse Palestinians of bombing their own hospitals without any
The US president might as well put on a helmet
and vest because in many ways he already is Israelís strongest soldier.
He just happens to not be stationed in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip,
but rather on the battlefield of truth.
The war on facts can only
be won through narrative. Unluckily for Palestinians, narratives of
violent Muslim men sell newspapers. These narratives are so deeply
ingrained in the US cultural psyche that reporters are willing to repeat
them without verification. After all, what could be more believable than
the existence of violent, sexually deranged Muslim men?
Journalists, politicians and civilians alike understand the world
through narratives. Fact-checking can only be so effective when
Islamophobic bias permeates across news stations and political parties.
What Palestinians have going for them is that their narratives
coincide with the truth ó the truth that they are victims of settler
colonialism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing, who refuse to simply die
while the international community watches.
deserve to see the light of day while those who spread falsehoods
The Palestinian narrative is the larger
context that they have been fighting for their freedom since 1948 when
Israel was created on the land they call home. Palestinians make up the
worldís largest refugee population at 5.9 million. And despite these
obstacles they have endured and inspired support from the general public
well beyond the Muslim world.
The mission of journalism is to
tell the truth through stories, but every story canít begin with settler
suffering and end the moment Israelis cease to be the protagonists. Most
importantly, the stories need to be true.
Most Americans have
never lived under occupation and as such do not see themselves in the
lives of Palestinians. Neither do most Western journalists. However,
thatís the power of stories and the role of storytellers: the power to
humanize or demonize the unknown.
Journalists have a
responsibility to shine a light on the plight of Palestinians, honestly
and with proper context, even if it contradicts the president of the
We will never solve the problems of this century
if journalists continue repeating the tropes of the last.
is a communications professional at Spitfire Strategies. He graduated
from the University of Florida with a double major in political science
and international studies with a focus on the Middle East, and a minor
in history. His article appeared in MEMO.