There are two ways you could report on the bloody conflict unfolding right now in Israel and Palestine.
One would be to put every new headline and story, whether that’s about Hamas’s rocket attacks or Israel’s wildly disproportionate airstrikes, in context.
That would mean explaining that the rockets came in the wake of a series of outrageous and criminal Israeli provocations in occupied East Jerusalem: a series of violent police raids on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, the third holiest site in Islam during its holiest month, that have damaged the sacred structure and injured hundreds, including worshippers; that Israeli forces were attacking Palestinians who were occupying Aqsa both to pray and to protect it from bands of far-right Israeli extremists who have been marching through East Jerusalem, attacking Palestinians, and trying to break into the compound; and that all of this sits in the shadow of protests against Israel’s most recent attempt to steal land from Palestinians in the city, and the ramping up of Israel’s theft of Palestinian land more broadly under Trump.
While you’re at it, you might at least make clear that the Israeli attacks on Gaza have been far more vicious and deadly than the rockets they’re supposedly “retaliating” against, having killed forty-three people so far, including thirteen children, and leveled an entire residential building. You might make clear that Hamas’s rockets are, owing to their own cheapness and Israel’s Iron Dome defense system, at this point closer to the lashing-out-in-impotent-frustration part of the spectrum (which, of course, is not to say they don’t do damage or occasionally take lives — they’ve killed six Israelis thus far). All of this would help people understand why what they’re seeing unfold on their screens is happening, and what might be done to stop it.
Or there’s the more traditional way of reporting on the Israel-Palestine conflict in Western media. That way involves boiling systemic injustice down to nondescript “rising tensions,” describing state violence and resistance to it as nebulous “clashes,” subtly presenting Israeli and Palestinian violence as roughly equivalent in scale and moral propriety, and generally making it impossible for casual consumers of news to do anything but throw their hands up in frustration and ask: “When will they learn to live together in peace?”
Jessica Smith is a left-wing feminist who loves animals, books, gaming, and cooking; she’s also very interested in linguistics, history, technology and society.