Israel and the US: Two Different Media Realities
In recent weeks, many of us, especially those of us with family, friends, and colleagues in Israel, have been sensing an uneasy disconnect. In the days after October 7th’s horrors, North American progressives who care about Israel and its future understood the necessity, even justification, of a major Israeli military operation in Gaza. In recent weeks, however, many of us have become increasingly dismayed by the level of civilian loss in Gaza and the humanitarian catastrophe there. At the same time, we’ve found that many of our connections in Israel remain very much committed to the war’s prosecution and continue to reject the diplomatic moves necessary to end it – in a way that benefits both sides.One of the apparent reasons for this disconnect is that we and they are being shown very different coverage of the war. In the U.S. and Canada, we are exposed on a daily basis to the ravages being inflicted on Palestinians in Gaza. But, as Moran Sharir wrote in Haaretz Hebrew last month, “the average Israeli citizen relying on Channel 12 news,” the country’s leading news broadcast, “isn’t aware [of] the humanitarian crisis” in Gaza. “Mainstream channels conceal this reality.”
On his Facebook page, leftwing Israeli activist Yoav Peck echoed this sentiment. Just as some American leftists are denying the true pain and suffering that Israelis are enduring, Israelis are going through a “parallel process of denial,” he said. “Here it is Israelis’ unwillingness to confront the Palestinian reality.” Peck writes that he has to switch off Israeli media and “force myself to open the [Qatar-based] Al Jazeera website, to witness the unbearable reality of life in Gaza.”
Last week, on WNYC public radio’s “On the Media” program, Oren Persico, a staff writer at The Seventh Eye, an independent investigative magazine focused on media and freedom of speech in Israel, discussed the Israeli media landscape since October 7. Persico said Israelis are living in a “bubble”, “unaware of what’s going on in Gaza and how [it’s] seen in the entire world”. “Your Israeli friend or relative,” he said, is therefore “in a parallel universe” and “does not see what you see.” You can find a longer half-hour version of the interview with Persico here, while a shorter 15-minute version is here.
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