Last week, Donald Trump announced the United States will now officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
This announcement has caused outrage across the world, especially in the Arab world.
Demonstrations and marches quickly followed to send a message to Trump and the US administration that recognising Jerusalem as the capital of an Israeli state is not only unjust due to the fact East Jerusalem is occupied Palestinian territory, but it will also delay the peace process indefinitely. David Hearst, editor-in-chief of the Middle Eastern Eye said: “there are 300,000 Jerusalemites who are residents, but not citizens of, the freshly declared Israeli capital and Trump has just thrown a grenade in their midst.”
2017 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the Six-Day War, the event that saw Israel occupy substantial parts of Palestine, including East Jerusalem, displacing over 250,000 Palestinians. The subsequent occupation of Palestine by Israel has been declared illegal by the United Nations as well as the International Court of Justice.
The British media’s reporting of Trump’s announcement has been largely predictable, downplaying actions of the Israeli military and overplaying the reactions of Palestinian resistance. The right-wing press has tended to focus on it being Muslim anger, continuing the fear-mongering narrative of anything Islam-related. For instance, the Daily Mail ran a headline beginning with “Muslim ‘day of rage’ against Trump turns deadly.” Such language provokes a reaction that Muslims are to blame for anyone dying, taking any responsibility that Israel may have in preventing violence and killing away.
It takes little effort to see how misleading such a headline is.
In 2015, it was reported by the International Institute For Strategic Studies that $18.6 billion was spent on the Israeli military, including US foreign military assistance. The United States and Germany are also suppliers of the IDF, meaning the latest intelligence, technology and arms will be at their disposal. One of the most heavily backed defence forces in the world should be better equipped at dealing with stones and burning tyres, and should not have to resort to killing.
Once these additional details of the ‘Day of Rage’ are added in, it’s difficult to overlook the failings of the UK media to report on the events fairly. Peter Beaumont, the Jerusalem correspondent for the Guardian, reports on the Israeli airstrike that killed two in Gaza. Beaumont accurately reports that this airstrike was a response to rockets being fired into Israel by Hamas. However, he fails to comment on how there were no Israeli casualties. This is largely due to the Israeli military’s capacity to effectively intercept rockets fired at them, which it dutifully did for one of at least two projectiles.Palestinians do not have this luxury, meaning any exchange of attacks will inevitably lead to more Palestinian deaths than Israeli. We need to ask whether an Israeli retaliatory strike is truly fair given the defensive capabilities of each side.
Beaumont also fails to comment on the fact that twenty-five civilians were wounded by Israel’s military in the counter-airstrike. The Palestinian Health Ministry, though, did report on this and revealed that of the twenty-five wounded, six of them were children. In addition, the location of these wounded civilians was not on military sites, as the Israeli military has reported, but on a building near the military site according to witnesses. Questions, thus, must be asked whether this airstrike carried out by the Israeli military was deliberately targeting civilians. If so, then the Israeli military has committed a war crime and should be at least reprimanded by the UN Security Council.
Once additional details and facts are filled in, the UK media can be largely seen as guilty for failing to accurately represent the conflict in Israel and Palestine. Accurate reporting of the events is vitally important so that serious questions can be asked and investigated, like whether or not the Israeli military’s response is proportionate, or whether or not war crimes are being committed.