The Media Bias That Legitimizes Palestinian Terror and Traumatizes Victims Once Again
“One dead, several injured in two explosions in Jerusalem.”
I sat at my desk, with a coffee in one hand and a computer mouse in the other. As this headline flashed on the screen, a pit formed in my stomach. Aside from the heavy emotions that come with reading about two terror attacks so close to home, something else seemed to bother me — the words in the headline of the story I was reading.
For the last two months, I have been working as a journalism intern at OneFamily Fund, which is Israel’s central non-profit supporting and rehabilitating victims of terror, both civilians and soldiers, and their bereaved families.
Witnessing firsthand how people’s lives are completely destroyed is heartbreaking. Their whole world is shattered in an instant. The sudden gaping hole for the families of victims widens day by day, as the pressure to act “normal” becomes greater. It becomes exhausting to maintain a routine and support a family emotionally and financially following an unexpected and tragic loss. And victims of terrorism say that the sheer number of skewed headlines and information about attacks negatively impacts their mental health.
Let me set a scene for you: John Doe is sitting in his kitchen in Chicago, eating eggs and reading the newspaper before work. He spots the headline: “One dead, several injured in two explosions in Jerusalem.”
Without reading any further, and as he flips to the following page, John is likely to think, “what a shame, sounds like a tragic accident.” By not mentioning the fact the explosions were bombs detonating, or that the perpetrators are members of US-designated terrorist groups, the newspaper has presented a particular narrative to its readers.
And for many people, Israeli news is not worth considering or analyzing in detail. People tend to believe that reading a sentence about current events in Israel is sufficient to know what’s going on — making the few words that comprise a headline so crucial.
And if the reader does make it past the headline, they are frequently presented with an inaccurate account of the story. Many details are exaggerated, while others are completely excluded. Journalists sway general opinion because they are trusted and depended upon to provide objective truth. Unfortunately, that often doesn’t happen.
As a result, when it comes to Israel, much of the public’s opinions are shaped by inaccurate media reports.
The consequences of anti-Israel media bias are present everywhere. The media influences the way people view Israel, and by extension, how Jews are treated worldwide. Amid growing anti-Israel media coverage, antisemitism is increasing, as well as the number of terror attacks in Israel.
Personally, I have attended many lectures centered around defending Israel against a hostile media that seems intent on smearing the only Jewish state. The biased media coverage of terror attacks in Israel is a big problem. News outlets use words such as “dead” and “explosions” instead of “murdered,” “bombings,” and “terror attacks.” The language used serves to distort the truth and is profoundly insulting to the victims of terrorism and their families, whose traumas are misrepresented and minimized.
We must take a stand against anti-Israel media bias. We have an obligation to correct the narrative when it comes to Israel.
I’ll go first: “One murdered, several injured in two terror attacks in Jerusalem.”
Molly Seghi is a podcaster, aspiring journalist and art enthusiast who is currently living in Jerusalem on her gap year before embarking on a degree at the University of Florida. She hosts a podcast, “An Aural Account,” which is an audio diary of conversations she has had with interesting people and the research she has done since graduating high school. The author is a guest contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.