The violence unleashed by the Zionist state in the last 10 days was so gruesome that even pro-Israel media organisations struggled to downplay it.
Ever since the state of Israel came into existence in 1948, it has been facing criticism for usurping Palestinian land to expand its borders and reduce the native Arabic-speaking population into a minuscule minority. Any resistance to such policies is met with brute force and if Palestinians challenge the state with arms, it has always been portrayed as an act of terrorism or extremism.
But the global opinion on Israel's conduct is changing fast because of several factors.The main ones are Palestinians becoming more argumentative inside Palestine and abroad, as well as the advent of social media.
Amazing. From Narrm 2 Palestine pic.twitter.com/cY5tWyhkZA— Tasnim 🌿🇵🇸⚘ (@ForPalestine__) May 22, 2021
As Israel unleashed gruesome violence on Palestine in the last 10 days, killing 232 Palestinians, including 65 children and over 36 women, videos and comments posted from places like Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem exposed the chilling details of death and destruction caused by the Israeli firepower.
“We’re the weak ones. Social media — our cameras and our videos — is one of the only means that we have. They have the weapons and the laws and the infrastructure,” Ines Abdel Razek, advocacy director for the Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy, told Vox.
“Palestinians just want to explain why this is happening and contextualize.”
Social media: a double-edged sword
It became hard to ignore the voices of many young Palestinian writers and activists who were tweeting from places like Gaza and the West Bank. While Western media organisations have long been criticised for underplaying the stories that come from the Palestinian side and overplaying the ones from Israel, this time some traditional media organisations appeared to be in a fix.
While some of them allowed a handful of Palestinians to express themselves on their platforms, most of the Western press, including the New York Times and the BBC, continued to cover the violence in conformity with the Israeli narrative, which aimed to show killing civilians as a natural reflex of self-defence against militants.
Israel's "right-to-self-defence" argument is monotonous state propaganda, which has been deployed over and over again to justify the use of disproportionate force against Palestinians. It has become preposterous over the years and an overwhelming number of people across the world refuse to buy it.
The war Israel waged on Gaza two weeks ago has ended up as a failure for the Jewish state. Apart from adding more dead Palestinians bodies to its tally, it could not filter the flow of information with the help of Western media organisations.
According to a recent US Army War College report, broadcast television in the modern era "has been tightly controlled from its inception by political and commercial elites who wish to shape public discourse and protect the audience from messages they find harmful or unprofitable”.
The report stated: “The digital revolution exploded this top-down model. Vastly more individuals and groups across the globe now have access to inexpensive cameras, sophisticated visual media tools, and a virtually free delivery system on the Internet.”
Because of these changes in society, the report's authors added: “The dominance of state and industrial information producers has receded, and a new crop of visual communicators has swept aside the old rules and relationships.”
Although Palestinians were able to release the footage of Israel's macabre violence just in time, it doesn't mean social media companies are immune to political pressure. As Israel began to use brute force following the Sheikh Jarrah protests against the forcible seizure of Palestinian properties, many prominent activists began complaining about the removal of their online content.
TRT World recently interviewed several activists and a former employee of Facebookand learned that it's not just algorithms, but anti-Palestinian and anti-Muslim prejudice found among several Facebook and Twitter employees across the world that contribute to the censoring of Palestine related content.
Marwa Fatafta, an expert on digital media at Access Now, told Intercept that in light of the recent violence inflicted by far-right Jewish settlers upon Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah, social media companies tend to censor Palestinian content "whenever things reach a certain peak".
"What we see are these mass takedowns of content,” she said, adding: “These companies need to provide transparency about their decisions on restricting content, particularly during these extremely critical times.”
As the truth finds its way out, Israel was unable to play the victim card in this episode of violence because the state spilled too much blood, flattened too many residential buildings and either killed or orphaned too many children.
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