Deconstructing Western media’s self-professed “impartiality”
Western news reporting on Palestine prides itself on keeping it professional, yet any media critic worth their salt can easily expose the pro-Israeli 'Doublethink' operating behind the smokescreen of journalistic neutrality.
“Journalists must be impartial - on the side of those who suffer.”
To me, these words by the late veteran journalist Robert Fisk (1946-2020) constitute one of the most trenchant deconstructions of the hypocritical nature of Western journalism: one that prides itself on its impartiality, but has no scruples in shedding its self-congratulatory professional ethics like a snake sheds its skin when political expediency demands it.
And nowhere does political expediency define the raison d’être of Western journalism and does impartiality reveal itself as a greater hoax, nothing more than Eurocentric hubris, than in the reporting of what conventional wisdom (which is all to often more ignorant than it is wise) has dubbed the “Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
This geopolitical coinage has been cleverly designed to obscure "Israel's" sole culpability by re-apportioning blame, against all factual realities and dictates of decency, to the sole victims, the Palestinians. In doing so, the pro-Israeli media artificially creates a level playing field in the narrative as compensation for the lack of a level playing field in the real world.
Thus, under the guise of “impartiality”, Western journalists reporting on Palestine routinely do the exact opposite of what Fisk demanded of those who ply the news trade: they are impartial not on the side of those experiencing suffering, but on the side of those who cause it, namely "Israel".
A recent example of this pro-"Israel" Western “impartiality” one could witness during "Israel's" latest bombing campaign on the besieged Gaza Strip which killed 49 Palestinians, among them 17 children: “Situation in the Middle East escalates” wrote one of Germany’s most trusted news outlets, tagesschau.de, with regards to the apartheid regime’s three-day bombing bonanza.
While this reads like a wholly impartial statement to the point of semantic vacuity, it is in fact highly revealing of partisan positioning on the side of those causing suffering, namely "Israel", a positioning orchestrated in a truly masterful way.
Let me explain: the dilemma every (liberal) white establishment journalist peddling colonial narratives faces in the 21st century is this: knowing that colonialism is frowned upon nowadays, but that you nonetheless continue to profit from the privileges it and its successor - modern racial capitalism - afford you, how do you take the side of another colonizer without lying about their true nature (which would entail violating your occupational code of ethics) and without letting your audience catch on to the fact that you are incorrigibly and unapologetically pro-colonialism?
The answer is simple: via the careful construction of “impartiality.” And what better way to do so than remaining as vague and abstract as possible? In the aforementioned headline, “Situation” is nothing but an abstractification of the more truthful “indiscriminate Israeli bombings” and “escalates” nothing but an abstractifying substitute for having to mention the countless number of Palestinian victims killed by "Israel", as decency and adherence to veracity would demand of any journalist worth their salt.
And “Middle East?” The deployment of this term in the context of Israeli warfare against Palestinian civilians has a far more dishonest agenda than simply not letting one’s reader on to one’s pro-colonial proclivities: The last time I checked, the Middle East comprised 17 UN-recognised countries, not only Palestine and "Israel", a European settler colony erected in Palestine. Thus, using a term like “Middle East” in the context of Palestine is taking a tried and tested Western tactic of diminishing "Israel's" culpability to even higher realms of factual distortion by falsely reapportioning blame not only to Palestinians, but to the entire Middle East.
Furthermore, read a book like Edward Said’s “Covering Islam: How the Media and the Experts Determine How We See the Rest of the World” from 1981 and you will understand why it is no coincidence that tagesschau.de has never published a news article about the ongoing war in Ukraine under the headline “Situation in Europe escalates” (though it did run a piece titled “Russia’s true face”, its subtitle including utterly non-impartial phrases such as “ruthless oppression” and “step towards totalitarianism” when it was Russia, not "Israel", that was banning human rights organizations…Oh, the hypocrisy!).
Western news reporting on Palestine can best be described by the term “Doublethink”, coined by George Orwell in his dystopian novel “1984” and which online encyclopedia Wikipedia describes as “a process of indoctrination in which subjects are expected to simultaneously accept two conflicting beliefs as truth, often at odds with their own memory or sense of reality.”
Transposed to the issue of Palestine: the consumer of Western news is expected to accept a truth in which both parties to the “conflict”, the oppressor and the oppressed, are equal victims, even if this “truth” is at odds with the consumer’s common sense.
Western journalism is not impartial. It is heavily partisan on the side of the sole perpetrator of a conflict that isn’t one. And because of that, its self-professed “impartiality” on the side of "Israel" has time and again proven to be nothing but calculated and wholesale indifference to Palestinian suffering at the hands of what can only be described as the single greatest felon of racialized murder and mayhem in the Western world after the United States.