British media bias towards Israel revealed

The British media has demonstrated “significant biases” over its Palestine/Israel coverage since October 7, with emotive language describing Israelis as “victims of attacks” 11 times more than Palestinians, according to a new report.

Media Bias Gaza 2023-24 was produced by the Centre for Media Monitoring (CfMM), an arm of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), and revealed that most British TV channels overwhelmingly promote “Israel’s right to defend itself,” overshadowing Palestinian rights by a ratio of five to one.

Talk TV, GB News and Sky News were among the worst offenders, according to the report.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Guests or commentators who try to explain the 75-year-old occupation of Palestine have been being accused by some presenters and columnists as justifying the October 7 attacks.
  • Having pro-Israel voices and talking points regularly as the lead items in news reports, even as the death toll in Gaza grew exponentially, has given prominence to Israeli life over that of Palestinians.
  • Language used appears to often underplay Palestinian deaths, compared to those of Israelis.
  • Descriptors such as “Hamas-run” in relation to the Gaza Health Ministry are favoured in the Western media possibly as a mechanism to cast doubt and delegitimise claims coming from Gaza, where international media are denied access.
  • Hateful language used to dehumanise Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims has, on occasion, has not been challenged.
  • Claims made by Israeli politicians, journalists and the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) have been amplified and accepted as truth without verification.
  • The insistence on “Israel’s rights” often to the exclusion of Palestinian rights, has been used to shut down pro-Palestinian voices or to legitimise Israeli claims.
  • There has been very little reference to the Israeli and Egyptian blockades of Gaza that have turned the territory into what some have called “an open- air prison.”
  • Pro-Palestinian voices and activists have been routinely denounced, misrepresented and targeted by many national media outlets. The right-wing media has been particularly hostile towards pro- Palestinian voices, framing them as supporters of terrorism and antisemites as well as being hostile to British values.
  • Palestinian symbols such as the Palestinian flag are used to illustrate stories on antisemitism and the intersection between Palestine and Islamophobia has been exposed with pro-Palestine support framed as dangerous and akin to a terror threat often because of the large Muslim contingent among it.
  • In broadcast TV, Israeli perspectives were referenced almost three times more than Palestinian ones. In online news, it was almost twice as much,” it noted.
  • 76% of online articles framed the conflict as an “Israel-Hamas war” and only 24% mentioned “Palestine/Palestinian,” indicating a lack of context.

“Pro-Palestinian voices face misrepresentation and vilification by media outlets, perpetuating harmful stereotypes,” the report said, adding right-wing news channels and right-wing British publications were “at the forefront of misrepresenting pro-Palestinian protestors as antisemitic, violent or pro-Hamas.”

Palestinians are regularly dehumanised in the UK media

Also, there were 361 TV news clips where the terms “beheaded” and “babies” were found and almost 50% of these were on the right-wing British channels Talk TV (27%) and GB News (20%), with Sky News accounting for 14%, said the report, which scrutinised a vast array of data analyzing 176,627 television clips from over 13 broadcasters and 25,515 news articles from over 28 UK online media websites.

The study also found that TV reporting of Israeli perspectives was referenced almost three times more (4,311) than Palestinian ones (1,598). In online news, it was almost twice as much (2,983 versus 1,737).

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On language usage, the study showed that media coverage highlighted a concerning trend where emotive language “disproportionately highlighted Israeli suffering while downplaying Palestinian casualties.”

It also examined the intersection between the crisis and Islamophobia, especially as Islamophobic hate crime increased by 335% since October 7.

“In the main, Palestinians should be reported on as human beings with full unalienable rights as enjoyed by all peoples. This also necessitates how those rights have been curtailed in a forever war against them that has its origins many decades before 7 October 2023,” said Faisal Hanif, the lead author of the report.

Rizwana Hamid, the director of CfMM, said: “As media organisations navigate the complexities of the conflict, it is imperative to uphold principles of fairness, accuracy and inclusivity, ensuring that all voices are heard and all perspectives are represented.”

Israel has waged a deadly military offensive on the Gaza Strip since an Oct. 7 attack by the Palestinian group Hamas, which Tel Aviv said killed nearly 1,200 people.

More than 30,700 Palestinians have since been killed and over 72,000 others injured amid mass destruction and shortages of necessities.

Israel has also imposed a crippling blockade on the Gaza Strip, leaving its population, particularly residents of northern Gaza, on the verge of starvation.

The Israeli war has pushed 85% of Gaza’s population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60% of the enclave’s infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). An interim ruling in January ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

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