Jahangir Mohammed, director of the Ayaan Institute, argues that Muslims need to avoid falling into the trap laid by Talk TV’s Piers Morgan, whose only real goal is not to platform Palestine but to use it as a way to gain views and push Israeli propaganda.
Presenter Piers Morgan has gained quite a viewership from debates with high profile/controversial people who support the Palestinian cause, including Muslims. It has become an obsession for many in the Muslim community to watch his shows and then discuss how well or badly Palestinian sympathisers have done.
It’s easy to get sucked in to this form of media entertainment on the back of Palestinian lives, but there comes a point when we need to ask ourselves: What’s the point of constantly debating someone who appears to have no real interest in anything other than shouting at Muslim guests “Do you condemn Hamas?”
Morgan seems unwilling to express criticism of Israel’s collective punishment of people in Gaza (collective punishment is against article 33 of the Geneva Conventions). His defence of Israel’s “self-defence” is asking what a proportionate response is; and this sounds like justifying both the collective punishment of Palestinians and the Israeli bloodlust for revenge.
It’s like asking how many Israelis Palestinians can kill in revenge for 75 years of brutal military and civilian occupation? Or how much retaliation can Hamas carry out for 16 years of Israel laying siege to Gaza? What would be a proportionate response?
If 20,000 Jews had been killed, including 8,000 children, we all know what it would be called, and the reaction of Western leaders would be totally different.
Morgan has allowed non-Muslims airtime to spout Israeli mass death policies, yet no Muslim would ever be allowed to come on any Western media to support death policies against anyone. So this is not a mature or responsible debate to help understand or solve a political problem.
By now we have enough information from Morgan’s debates (in answer to questions posed to him by guests) to conclude that he is a supporter of Israel; more interested in Jewish lives and suffering than Palestinian lives.
In my opinion, the Palestinian issue is being used to increase his viewership rather than a genuine concern for what the Palestinian people are going through. Of course, this is the same approach as most Western media platforms. Palestinians are dehumanised, their suffering and loss of life is downplayed and not considered of equal worth compared to European Jewish lives.
Morgan and the Western media parrot Israeli and IDF propaganda lines without allowing a proper rebuttal of them. Debates seldom move beyond “do you condemn Hamas” and anyone who does not answer in the expected manner is treated as having less moral worth.
In his recent debate with Andrew Tate, Morgan spent most of the first half of his programme and much of the rest of it focussing on condemnations of Hamas and its actions on October 7. His debate with Jewish Professor Norman Finkelstein didn’t really move beyond Hamas either. It’s the same scenario in most of his discussions with Palestine supporters.
Getting guests who have sympathies for the plight of the Palestinians to condemn and focus on Hamas is a well-rehearsed strategy by the Western media to present a pro-Israel script. It is designed to ensure no genuine discussion of the condition of Palestinians and the underlying causes get airtime. It allows the media to show they have given the opposite side a chance to air their views without really doing so.
Focussing on Hamas makes it an “Israel versus Hamas” problem to the public. It’s also meant to prevent Israeli behaviour from reaching genuine critical discussion and legitimises revenge blood-shedding by Israel to a wider public. In doing so it is a racist narrative that devalues Palestinians by giving greater weight to Israeli lives and their suffering.
All deaths in war and military occupations are tragic and terrible for families and I do not believe in making light of them. However, we must tackle the ridiculous racist pro-Israeli propaganda and anti-Muslim tropes that Morgan and other media repeat.
Are Hamas/’Islamists’ equivalent to Nazis?
Israel’s supporters scream antisemitism when Israel is being compared with fascism and Nazism. Yet they are happy to project fascism and Nazism on to Palestinians, Muslims and a lightly-armed militia group that is not even comparable to any modern army.
Hamas until recently killed so few Jewish people that it is absurd to compare them with those who killed six million Jews because of a hatred of a race. Here is a UN approved link for Israeli and Palestinian deaths and injuries before October 7. Across Gaza, the West Bank and Israel since 2008 there have been 311 Israeli deaths compared to 6,621 Palestinians.
Hamas has neither the means nor motivation of the Nazis. The ideology of fascism and Nazism are European, not from the Muslim world, as of course is Zionism. Hitler also used Christian and Biblical reasoning to justify his hatred of Jews, i.e. those who he considered killers of Christ.
Some current Israeli leaders also use verses from the Bible to justify their massacres. The Muslim world always considered Jews to be People of the Book with more in common with their faith. The Quran is not the Bible and Islam is not Christianity.
There is a lot of misinformation about what happened and who was killed on October 7. In the fog of war, propaganda takes precedent over facts, which should be verified independently. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz has published the names, ages and ranks of all those killed in the attacks and the following days. This is a worthwhile reference for anyone who wishes to work out how many babies, children and soldiers were killed.
However, you don’t need to be an expert to look at some of those early photos of large numbers of vehicles bombed or buildings demolished, to know that Palestinians do not have the means to carry out that level of damage which can only come from the air (compare with the images of the “chicken run” slaughter of retreating Iraqi army vehicles carried out by the U.S. in the first Iraq War).
The bodies of 200 Hamas fighters that were so badly burned that the IDF initially thought they were Israelis can only have happened from aerial bombing (the initial figure of 1,400 Israeli deaths was revised to 1,200).
So whilst it may suit Hamas and its supporters to boast about their capabilities given their inability to inflict mass Israeli casualties in the past 15 years, one must really question how such large numbers of casualties occurred.
Morgan also thinks the whole of the civilised world considers Hamas as a “terrorist organisation.” Here he seems to be conflating the West with the “civilised world.” Most of the Global South do not consider them in that way, including NATO member Turkey.
In conclusion, Palestinian lives and suffering should not be used as a form of entertainment and sport to get maximum views for Morgan and his show. An idea seems to have spread in the Muslim community in recent years that any debate and media appearance is good for Daw’ah or the Muslim cause. That is not a view based on Allah’s guidance in the Quran which stipulates:
“He has already revealed to you in the Book that when you hear Allah’s revelations being denied or ridiculed, then do not sit in that company unless they engage in a different topic, or else you will be like them…” Al Quran 4:140
Muslims are guided by the revelations in the Quran on matters to do with oppression or injustice, those who support and deny them and how to engage in self-defence. It does not matter what Piers Morgan or anyone else thinks, and endless debates repeating the same format are pointless.
It is for the Palestinian people to decide on their conditions and how to liberate themselves from their enemies. It is not for Muslims and Europeans sitting comfortably in the West to decide what form their liberation takes and make judgements about their morality, and condemn endlessly; especially when we are unwilling to stop their occupiers from oppressing them, much less utter a word of criticism against Israel.
It’s time for Muslims to boycott Morgan, I say.
This article was first published on the Ayaan Institute website.