Insidious British media narrative on Palestine explained

JVL Introduction

This article in Spotlight looks at how UK mainstream media’s often subtle narrative on Palestine supports an extremely pro-Israeli perspective.

It does so by taking a Sky News story and exposing the narrative that underpins it.

It’s partly the choice of words used, partly the implication that Palestinians (even children) are equally matched with heavily armed and trained Israelis, partly the total absence of context.

In this case there is plenty of documented evidence and a video record of Israeli police brutalising Palestinian worshipers outside Al-Aqsa Mosque throughout the month of Ramadan.

But for the  ‘journalist’ involved here, it is “unclear” who started the violence. We simply get a repeat of the Israeli evidence-free narrative that Palestinian “extremists” had been plotting “well in advance” to “riot”.

This article was originally published by Spotlight on Wed 12 May 2021. Read the original here.

Insidious British media narrative on Palestine explained

Watch Clive Lewis on Palestine

I can only speculate as to why the majority of the UK mainstream media’s often subtle narrative on Palestine supports an extremely pro-Israeli perspective but, instead, I think it might be helpful to break down and expose the narrative that they employ. Take this headline on the Sky News website, for example (below). It implies that 20 people were killed by Hamas rockets in Jerusalem, so you naturally assume they mean 20 Israeli’s killed, when in actual fact it was 20 Palestinians who were killed by Israeli air-strikes on Gaza. So, why not say “Israeli air-strikes on Gaza kill 20 Palestinians?”

You’ll also note the repetitive use of words like “clashes” or “conflict” in much of the corporate media, which implies that Palestinians (including women and children) are equally equipped with weapons, that they have the same protective clothing as IDF soldiers and that they get combat training like IDF soldiers. This narrative implies Palestinians (even children) are equally matched and are engaged in a “conflict”. It also completely dismisses the reality which is that Palestinians are under colonial occupation and living in an apartheid state. Their struggle is for freedom, human rights and a return of their lands and property that were taken from them, where as Israel fights to retain control over the Palestinian land and property it now illegally occupies.

In this section of the Sky article, we note a complete lack of context. Hamas didn’t issue an ultimatum without provocation. Latest reports are that well over 700 Palestinians have been injured by IDF soldiers and 28 killed (including 9 children). In fact, Israeli police have been firing stun grenades, rubber bullets and water cannons at Muslim worshipers attending AL-Aqsa mosque, every day of the holy month of Ramadan. This ‘ultimatum’ is essentially the Palestinian authorities telling the Israeli authorities to desist in the violence being inflicted apon it’s civilian population. The fact that the Palestinian authorities even gave them an ultimatum in the face of overwhelming provocation is quite something and yet the focus has become the ultimatum itself and not what came before. To put things into context, when Neville Chamberlain gave Germany an ultimatum that if they didn’t pull out of Poland then the United Kingdom would be at War with Germany, no one in their right mind, other than the Germans, would have implied that the UK was the aggressor and didn’t have good reason to issue a warning.

There is an extremely insidious element to the media narrative. Aware of how the visuals of Palestinian children being injured, killed or bereaved might look for Israel, they will simply pretend it isn’t happening or do what they can to minimise the damage, to the extent of even referring to children as adults…

Sometimes, it’s not just what they say it’s also what they don’t tell you. Understandably, the journalist will occasionally reference a quote from a spokesperson or leading figure but it’s good practice to also present the alternative perspective, either in the form of a quote from the opposition or some background information for context. This journalist chooses to print a statement from Netanyahu in which he declares “we will not tolerate attacks on our territory, our capital, our citizens and our soldiers” but neglects to provide a counter perspective or explain that what is at the crux of the unrest is that the territory and capital that Netanyahu claims for Israel is in fact Palestinian territory and the Palestinian capital.

The ‘journalist’ (and I use that term loosely) then quotes Dominic Raab condemning Palestinians firing rockets at Israel. Again, no context as to what provoked them to do that and certainly no condemnation of Israel’s air-strikes on the civilian population of Gaza.

In an attempt to legitimise this utter drivel, this ‘journalist’ then provides some heavily adulterated context. They conveniently leave out the fact that the Israeli police used brutal force, including stun grenades, rubber bullets and water cannons, on Muslim worshipers in order to stop them attending the Al-Aqsa mosque during the holy month of Ramadan. Once again, they choose to describe what happened as “clashes” and no attempt at all is made to explain what triggered the unrest. They even refuse to acknowledge that the police were in fact firing on worshipers who were simply attending prayers at their local mosque. Some of the worshipers naturally retaliated by throwing stones at the police and yet it’s the worshipers and not the armed police firing stun grenades and rubber bullets who this ‘journalist’ chooses to label “extremists”

There is plenty of documented evidence and a video record of Israeli police brutalising Palestinian worshipers outside Al-Aqsa mosque through out the month of Ramadan and yet this ‘journalist’ claims it is “unclear” who started the violence and then chooses to repeat the Israeli narrative that Palestinian “extremists” had been plotting “well in advance” to “riot.” This completely side steps causation and labels worshipers who were, after all, simply trying to defend themselves as extremists and rioters and portrays the Israeli police who have been brutalising civilians as “innocent people”

A  quick Google search will furnish anyone with even a fleeting interest in the facts with video after video of the Israeli police brutalising Palestinian worshipers outside (and even inside) the Al-Aqsa mosque over the last few weeks…

Armed Israeli soldiers repeatedly punch un-armed Palestinian lad.

Israeli police officer prevented from throwing a grenade at unarmed Palestinians after he realises he’s being filmed.


Israeli police firing grenades and rubber bullets at unarmed worshipers inside and around Al-Aqsa mosque.


It seems we are now through the looking glass with much of British mainstream journalism. Balance and objectivity is now completely out of the window, while narrative control as a means to pursue a political agenda (even a foreign political agenda) is very much the flavour of the day.

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Comments (12)

  • DJ says:

    Good stuff JVL. The pro Israeli narrative being fed to the public by the MSM is shocking!

  • Rosemary Brocklehurst says:

    This should be sent to the Sky news Editor. The journalists lack of knowledge about anything let alone Israel/Palestine is depressing.
    Additionally – I watched Sky this a.m. late morning on 14th May – a female journalist may not have been as well informed as she might but she sure gave the hideous israeli Ambassador to Britain a grilling today. He did not come off well. He was trying to liken attacks on israel to The Blitz with Palesgtine as the ‘aggressor’ – and tried to talk over the journo. She held her ground and was firm and fierce.

  • John Marsh says:

    “The state of Israel will prove itself not by material wealth,not by military might or technical achievement, but by its moral character and human values.” David Ben-Gurion

  • Jack T says:

    The mantra pushed by Netyanyahu and Biden that Israel has a right to defend itself has no basis in international law. In fact the opposite is true, they have an obligation as the occupier to treat those whom they occupy, humanely. It is the Palestinians who have the right to resist occupation using force if necessary.

  • Jack T says:

    By calling it a ‘war’ between Jews and Palestinians Netanyahu and others are being antiSemitic. It is a war between ZIONISTS and Palestinians. As we know, many Jews totally condemn the brutal actions of Israel against the Palestinians.

  • John Bowley says:

    Deep hypocrisy within the establishment media, inclusive of the blessed BBC, is infinite and never ending and it manifests itself in its deliberate misleading.

  • Allan Howard says:

    Black propaganda turns everything on its head! As Malcolm X said:

    “The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.”

  • rc says:

    Wouldn’t it be worth pointing out that the prospect of the Yom HaYerusalayim annual pogrom march against Palestinian residents, especially of East Jerusalem, increased the fear experienced by those residents, and increased the savage and triumphalist glee of the Zionist marchers (that’s the apparently even-sided ‘tension’ referred to by most of the ‘journalists’ whose reports I have seen.
    Of course, I would deprecate those who claim that the IDF and Border Force have no more ‘absolute right to defend themselves ‘ (James Cleverly MP) as the Kaminsky Brigade and the Dirlewanger Battalion did.
    But it is worth noting that the Chief Rabbi here not only praised but actually participated in such a march, attempting to implicate all British Jews in this serial and racist provocation.

  • DJ says:

    The establishment and MSM commentators understand what ethnic cleansing is all about. They just can’t admit that it is integral to the Israeli settler colonial project. To do so would undermine the racist endeavour they support. This is why land and property theft is described as “real estate disputes” It’s also why terms like”evacuation”and “eviction”are being selected to describe the expulsion and dispossession of the Palestinians. There is nothing” complicated” about all of this. They just want us to find it too complex to take a stand on this clear injustice.

  • Allan Howard says:

    Talking about disinformation – in THIS case to falsely discredit left-wing MPs – please check out the following ‘comment’ on skwawkbox in respect of an article skwawkbox posted (yesterday) about the big demo(s) yesterday in support of the Palestinians, AND my replies (in the early hours of this morning) AND the poster’s response to my replies (earlier this afternoon):

    Practically EVERY time – except when ‘they’ just ignore it and pretend they haven’t seen it – I call out people posting falsehoods on skwawkbox – the VAST majority of which are concocted and designed to discredit socialist MPs or the left in general – they respond with personal abuse, in the SAME vein as THIS particular poster. Yes, it’s amazing how many people who regularly post on skwawkbox and claim to be left-wingers AND supporters of Jeremy Corbyn so often post comments denigrating and discrediting Jeremy or other left-wing MPs or the SCG as a whole or left-wing members. And I’m talking about literally hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of posts during the course of the past couple of years or so.

    [JVL web: We have approved this post so that the point can be made here – once. But the argument is to be had on Skwawkbox not JVL and we do not see our role as hosting this discussion in general.

    For the record, you will find a powerful Socialist Campaign Group of MPs’ statement on the general situation, dating from last year, here.]

  • Allan Howard says:

    Apologies…… and I should ALSO add that they – the shills – ALSO give themselves Likes shortly after posting their abusive comment(s) so as to have readers of skwawkbox believe there are ALSO readers of the blog who agree with them regarding my mental state. The thread in question is from early yesterday evening, and skwakbox has posted two more articles since then – one late last night and one earlier today – but in the space of about thirty minutes after I posted my response to lundiel’s response, both HE and the other abusive poster have supposedly received Likes! Who, but shills, would give Likes to abusive comments directed at someone who exposed a falsehood that someone posted!

  • Tim DAVIES says:

    I agree that much of the British press/media is biased and right wing. However, I think the Guardian, Independant and FT give fairly good and unbiased coverage of news events. The Israeli/Palestine conflict is complex and until ALL parties are participants involved in this conflict resolution, the challenges will keep returning.

Comments are now closed.