Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Different Realities

Earlier this week, the United States opened its new embassy in Jerusalem. That same day, there were massive protests in Gaza, and dozens of Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces.

There are many ways to report the events of the day. I had expected, however, that at least some of the facts were important enough to be reported in any major news source.

I was wrong.

It has been said that we are in "post-truth" times. Maybe that's true.

The following website from pages were all pulled within a span of a few minutes of each other on Monday evening. Which truth is your truth? In a multiple choice test, I'm thinking my answer may be, "none of the below."

"Death in Gaza, a New Embassy in Jerusalem and No Sign of Peace." A nearly two minute video showing the juxtaposition, and then one analysis of the events in Gaza, one of the event in Jerusalem, and also an analysis of the controversial speaker. Also, an editorial in addition to multiple op-ed pieces. At the headline level at least, there is no attempt to present any position that might align with the Trump or Netanyahu administrations' positions. The headlines consistently put Gaza before the embassy move. No Palestinian governing authority is mentioned, beyond "Palestinian officials." If you're looking for acknowledgment that Hamas exists, you won't find it here.

The front page includes attacks on feds, Mueller, and the NY Times! The only mention of Israel or of Palestinians by name is in a video link labeled, "Security Expert on Israeli response to Palestinian protests." Emphasis on response. The link is near the bottom of the page.

As with the NY Times, the deadly violence is first, juxtaposed with the embassy opening. The Post notably used some interesting (to me, anyway) phrasing: death is passive ("Dozens of Palestinians were killed") but the protests were active ("as tens of thousands protested along the border fence"). I have to believe that neither the Gazans nor Israelis would have used that phrasing. There is a single analysis piece, which suggests that "Trump's embassy move has triggered protests." Again, I doubt that many Gazans or Israelis would describe it quite like that. Any op-eds or editorials are below the fold, crowded out by domestic news stories. The Post also includes two video links, including an analysis of "The Trump Administrations Orwellian Israeli messaging."

Yes, Melania Trump has an embolization, and she's the First Lady, so it's newsworthy. The right column has a link to an opinion piece, a link to an analysis that references a famous Neville Chamberlain quote (!!), and a link to an article about Turkish reaction. But there is no story on the front page attempting to describe the day's events. As if the travails of Meghan's dad were somehow more important to know. 

THE GUARDIAN (US and UK Edition)
The UK/US differences seem relatively minor, on the surface. The US edition puts "Trump's new embassy" death first, while the UK edition leads with "More than 50 killed." The analysis piece for the US edition similarly leads with the embassy. while in the UK the headline is the alliterative "Death, destruction and division." The impression being, The Guardian equivocates for the US market.

By the time I pulled the headlines on Monday evening in the US, it was already Tuesday business hours in Israel. The embassy opening was literally "yesterday's news."
Israel's ranking "left wing" paper, Haaretz, led with a blistering editorial attacking Israeli leadership for its failures in Gaza. Alone among these news sources, Haaretz mentions Hamas, and "storming of the fence" (compare and contrast to The Washington Post). Perhaps most startlingly, it is the only paper in this presentation to reference "Gaza's economic crisis" in the lead-in to its main article, an acknowledgment that the events weren't simply "triggered" by Trump's embassy.

The Times of Israel, a more right wing newspaper that is regularly used to promote pro-Israeli government positions, shows several articles on the world reaction to the violence. The embassy is not mentioned, at all. Presumably, the embassy had been mentioned earlier in the day.

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