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Opinion: Israel’s Media War - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The tragic situation unfolding in Gaza, and Israel’s criminal aggression against Palestinians there, is nothing new. This is just another painful chapter in the sad, repetitive and protracted story of Israeli aggression against Palestine. However, what is new is the way in which this is now being reported.

Every round of criminal Israeli aggression against Gaza has received its fair share of international media coverage, but this was routinely strongly biased in favor of Israel, particularly in the West. Palestinian “resistance” was turned into “terrorism,” while the Israelis were portrayed as the victims. All of this aimed to promote a false view of what was happening in the region, polishing the image of the Israelis in the eyes of the world and confusing the situation. This meant that those interacting with this media coverage found the truth obstructed, and were presented with a biased version of events.

Israel excels at promoting its own worldview, working hard to reap the ideas it sows. Attempts to criticize Israel’s acts are dismissed as anti-Semitism, regardless of the nature of this criticism. Many respected journalists and media figures have found themselves the victim of such dismissal, their “crime” nothing more than going against the prevalent narrative and saying something different and closer to the truth.

However, something surprising is happening in the media today regarding the current Israeli aggression against Gaza. Digital media, and particularly social media, has been able to get around these restrictions. We have seen a digital media revolution that cannot be ignored. Digital media is outside of the control of Israel and the “traditional” media, which supports its false narrative. Today, the general public can simply go online and see what is happening for themselves, and indeed participate in this through citizen journalism.

Israel has found itself facing a major dilemma. It is no longer able, as it was before, to convince the West that it is the victim. It can no longer claim to be the only country in the region that “shares” common values with the “civilized” West when the images of the atrocities it is committing are available for all to see.

Today, people in the West have become accustomed to receiving their news from more than one source, while there are also groups and websites that actively seek to expose any falsehoods or misleading reports that are disseminated through the pro-Israeli media.

This can be seen in America’s NBC network being forced to reverse its decision to take reporter Ayman Mohyeldin off the beat in Gaza. NBC had ordered Mohyeldin home following an emotional live report documenting the killing of four Palestinian boys by an Israeli airstrike while playing football on a Gaza beach. NBC claimed the move was based on “security concerns,” but later reversed this decision after Mohyeldin’s fans took to Facebook and Twitter to criticize the move. Mohyeldin—an Egyptian American—is one of the most prominent correspondents to cover the events in Gaza in a professional, credible and well-balanced manner.

This clearly demonstrates that the situation has changed. Interviews and round-tables on Gaza have seen commentators and presenters dare to challenge their Israeli guests about the conflict, asking them sharp questions that would have been unacceptable just a few years ago. This has all been inspired by events in the digital media.

Regardless of the outcome of the military conflict raging in Gaza, there is another battle taking place in the realm of the media, and there can be no doubt that this is now a far less one-sided conflict.

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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