A key ‘mainstream’ media theme in covering the Israeli army’s repeated massacres of unarmed, non-violent Palestinian civilians protesting Israel’s military occupation in Gaza – killing journalists, a paramedic, the elderly and children – has been the description of these crimes as ‘clashes’.
This has been a clear attempt to obfuscate the fact that while two groups of people are involved, only one group is being killed and wounded.
To the casual reader – and many readers do not venture beyond the headlines – a ‘clash’ suggests that both sides are armed, with both suffering casualties. One would not, for example, describe a firing squad as a ‘clash’. There was no ‘clash’ in New York on September 11, 2001, and so on.
Following Israel’s massive blitz on more than 100 targets in Syria on May 10, ‘mainstream’ coverage offered similarly questionable frameworks of understanding. A Guardian headline read:
Israel retaliates after Iran “fires 20 rockets” at army in occupied Golan Heights (Our emphasis)
For moral, legal and public relations reasons, the issue of which side started a conflict is obviously crucial. If the public recognises that the case for war is unjustified, immoral or illegal – that a country has chosen to launch a war of aggression – they will likely oppose it, sometimes in the millions, as happened in 2002 and 2003 in relation to the Iraq war. It is thus highly significant that the Guardian described Israel as…