The Ugly Face of Israeli Violence Finally Goes Mainstream

The blatant assault on media is only the last in a long-running saga.

Those of us who’ve long been sympathetic with the Palestinian cause know already what an emotional ordeal it has been to watch the oppression of an entire people at the hands of settler-colonial fascist military regime, but many would not have paid attention until the IDF flattened an entire building which used to house the AP, Al Jazeera, and several other media operations inside the Gaza strip.

The explanation for this is a self-fulfilling prophecy like most of what the IDF tends to indulge in–the theory is that every building struck down is one less vector of influence for Hamas, even when the intelligence suggesting such a thing could be faulty at best, or straight-up fabricated at its very worst. It comes on the heels of several actors within the mainstream media voicing apathy—or even advocating for violence like the NYT’s Bret Stephens recently did—and it begs into question whether the prevailing view on the conflict’s moral complexity warrants upholding still.

From Israel’s perspective—as some analysts have theorized—it is a way to pressure Hamas into submission since those who occupy these buildings have better material standing than the bulk of Gaza’s long-embattled destitute. But it’s still a baffling state of affairs that those covering one of the most volatile conflicts of our modern era are merely given an hour’s notice—in which case they have every incentive to hasten and not heed its word to the minute—before their resources, tangible and otherwise, become naught but rubble and debris.

The callousness with which the United States has ignored Israeli-side issued violence is appalling to say the least, but even more embarrassing is the impulse some feel to justify it, given the prompt ability to watch it in clear and unmistakable detail on the pages of social media. This is perhaps the only variable that has made the Palestinian issue harder to ignore in recent years–now that there are more ways to document it, the press coverage can no longer be skewed as lacking neutrality or being uncharacteristically-unfair. Everyday Gazans are journaling their struggles midst growing concern that they might not live to see another day, and it’s wildly inconvenient for the Israeli government that it can no longer be spun as radical islamist propaganda.

Even though the parameters of the conflict have not radically shifted, the public’s perception of it certainly has, and it is in no small part due to the tireless advocacy work that leftist activist groups have partook in despite the deck being heavily stacked against them. When given la parole by Western media, Palestinians can very clearly and succinctly articulate the case for why their oppression is a most-insensible disregard for their humanity, and even means of alternative coverage—HasanAbi’s political streams on Twitch come readily to mind—have drawn unprecedented amounts of attention to an issue that is ever rarely given what it duly deserves.

When the weight of past atrocities is considered, it rarely springs to mind what would’ve been to watch them happen in plain sight and not at least voice symbolic disapproval–the Israeli-Palestinian conflict offers a prime example of what it is to live on the pages of a history textbook in the process of being written, not having the faintest idea of what any given party’s stance will be portrayed as. Me entertaining the mere notion that there’s a power asymmetry between the two countries is already a cardinal sin to some—not to mention the massive institutional disadvantage I’m putting myself at in a media environment that has plenty to gain from over-complexifying the issue—but I’d be remiss to hold my words when I’ve oft-expressed the desire for a thriving media ecosystem away from the clutches of perverse profit-driven incentives, one that prizes public good above all other considerations.

Crucial to promoting that is doing away with the notion of portraying both sides of the conflict like they have equally to atone for–one is bombing what little habitable space is left for civilians, and the other is merely concerned about the mere notion of the Iron Dome failing its primary directive when it rarely ever has. To appeal to the cries of wailing children and distressed parents is a compelling route for those who we can hardly elicit empathy from, but it’s important to keep in mind that even if images coming out of Gaza were not this bleak, residents of the strip still deserve our unconditional support in the face of violence so vile and pure.

The demoralizing part about all of this is America playing such a passive role when it could at least pay lip-service to Palestinians’ concerns–Joe Biden saying that “Israel has the right to defend itself” is a non-starter because we’ve already established one side bears the brunt of the other’s impunity to attack them. The United Nations—for how useless it has been in acting any measure of change for the people of Palestine—have reportedly even had the rug swept from under them by Biden, grounding the international community’s efforts to bring about momentary relief to a screeching halt.

What to do from here then? Well in the absence of any willingness from the American foreign policy apparatus to entertain alternative measures, it is likely that this wave of violence will continue raging until something gives. Whether it’s Hamas ceasing its pitiful attempts at military retaliation, or the US finally bringing about a harsh condemnation of the response to it, the deeply-unsettling fact of today’s events is that they’ll only end once a great volume of unnecessary suffering has already occured. The pain is no less for those who left it all behind, and for our continued dismissal of their struggles, shame is a most-adequate ressenti that we don’t ever deserve forgiveness for until Palestinian voices are centered and given heed when the woes that afflict their everyday lives are sustained through complicity and political inaction.