Bias and censorship have flooded the media when covering the the conflict between Israel and Palestine. The truth is that this conflict did not start in October 7th, but rather, has been happening for over 75 years. Here is a brief overview on the history of Israel and Palestine.
Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 17, 2023
By Sophia Labordo and Farabi Milisha
On the 7th of October 2023, the Palestinian Islamist militant group, Hamas, led an attack on Israeli areas to “regain Palestinian pride” after years of occupation. The coordinated attack, known as Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, consisted of a barrage of rockets shot into neighboring Israeli territory as well as Palestinian militants attacking military bases in the Gaza envelope. In response, on October 8 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared a state of war with Hamas. This is not a new occurrence in this region, but reflects a conflict that spans decades before the 21st century. However, the boom in news coverage of the conflict has often caused its history to be erased. The importance of media literacy and awareness of present events is needed now more than ever so people around the world can become educated and so that history does not repeat itself.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict and tension can be traced back in the early 1900s. In 1917, the British government issued the Balfour Declaration, which sought to establish a “national home for Jewish people” in Palestine. The British’s promise and the Nazi persecution led to thousands of Jews to migrate to Palestine for refuge. At the time, the world’s population was less than 10 percent Jewish. From 1922 to 1935, the Jewish population increased to almost 27 percent of the world population. However, the enactment of the Balfour Declaration significantly disrupted the lives of Palestinians, as it handed Jews land that consisted of more than 90 percent native Palestinians. The British government failed to recognize the Palestinians’ desire for independence, as they were subject to British occupation as a result of the declaration. The United Nations decided to end the declaration and divide Palestine into a “Jewish State” and “Arab State” with Jerusalem under protection administered by the United Nations. Nevertheless, this compromise did not resolve the conflict and violence that soon broke out in the region.
Israel was declared an independent state in May 1948. Although this was a success for Jews, it sparked violence and brutality with the Arabs. Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon invaded the region and Palestinians were forced onto a smaller piece of land. Israel was victorious in the war, but had foreign allies, among whom the land in the contested region was divided. The West Bank was under Jordan’s jurisdiction and the Gaza strip was overtaken by Egypt until 1967, when a long period of war began between Israel and an alliance of Arab countries. After the war, Israel conquered Palestinian and Arab land such as the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, and East Jerusalem. This war resulted in a large group of Palestinians becoming refugees, as their territories were now ruled by Israel. It wasn’t until 1987 that Palestinian forces began an uprising for justice. In 1993, Israel’s Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, and the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization at the time, Yasir Arafat, signed the Oslo accords. This agreement led to the recognition of the Palestine Liberation Organization as a representative for the Palestinians and acknowledged Israel's "right to exist in peace.” In 2000, Palestine was able to gain control of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The next year, Hamas won the election to control Gaza, prompting Israel to impose a blockade on the Gaza Strip. This limited the ability of people and goods to move in and out the region, causing humanitarian groups to raise concerns regarding the circumstances that Palestinians were forced to endure. As indicated by the United Nations, 81% of Gaza’s population lives in poverty, 63% of the citizens have to endure food insecurity and 46.6% are unemployed. In addition, clean water and electricity are virtually inaccessible for the citizens. Hamas and Israel continued to experience conflict in the following years—6,000 Palestinians and 300 Israelis have been killed since 2008.
It is difficult to know exactly what is happening with any conflict, but especially so for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict due to its longevity and the myriad of combatants involved. News outlets are supposed to be a citizen’s source of factual intelligence, allowing the people to be more informed of global current events. While many individuals make an effort to be aware of current events, it is important to realize that just as many are uninformed. The present times evidence the power of information, as news coverage of the Israel-Hamas war has caused outrage, protests, and advocacy efforts. If one is misinformed, they may fight or push for a cause that has been altered by and built from false truths.
Being misinformed can cause the targeting of innocent people. According to the Guardian, Muslim and Jewish Americans are worried about the rise of hate crimes against others in their communities and to the people who have voiced their support for either Israel or Palestine. People can reduce fear and hate by being correctly informed about the conflict between Israel and Hamas.
There are many steps one can take to avoid misinformation and stay informed on current events. When reading the news, ask yourself: Is the source trustworthy? Many instances of false news come from unknown and non-credible news sources. Does the news show any bias to a certain side or group? Consuming media with a bias can influence your own opinion. Does the information have any emotional language? Emotional language causes a heightened emotional response from the consumer, creating a sense of urgency, fear, or guilt which can impact one’s perspective. Additionally, seeking out diverse viewpoints can help one see all sides of an issue and assist them in making an informed opinion on it. Seek out news sources that are trustable, show no evident bias, and have been approved by media watchdog organizations.
As Israel and Hamas continue to exist in a major state of conflict that is disrupting the lives of many innocent civilians, it is crucial that people take the time to educate themselves on what is occurring between the two countries. People must value the importance of staying informed, as it opens their perspective to a global scale, enables them to make knowledgeable decisions, allows critical thinking, and encourages them to become more active citizens. When a person is more informed, they become less vulnerable to propaganda or manipulation from any untrustworthy outlet. It is important that the suffering of the victims of the war between Israel and Hamas be acknowledged by the rest of the world, as these events will be forever recorded in history.
Fabiha Khanam, director of the Media Relations team at Teens for Press Freedom advocates that “ It is crucial that when we look at the Israel and Palestine conflict, we view it through the correct lens. We should not be swayed one way or the other based solely on media propaganda. We, members of Teens for Press Freedom, believe that Israel should be held accountable for the genocide and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Furthermore, Hamas should also be held accountable for their actions on October 7th. However, the level of violence that Israel has committed to eradicate Hamas, does not justify the innocent lives killed. This conflict and war is all about context. To gather the correct context, we must have media literacy. We at TPF, call for a ceasefire and humanitarian aid”.
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Resources, action toolkits, and organizations
ABC News Network. (n.d.). ABC News. https://abcnews.go.com/International/timeline-long-history-israeli-palestinian-conflict/story?id=103875134
Jewish and Muslim Americans fear rise in hate crimes amid Israel-hamas war. (2023). Retrieved from
Israeli-palestinian conflict | global conflict tracker. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cfr.org/global-conflict-tracker/conflict/israeli-palestinian-conflict