The Guardian • Issue #2080


Look who’s talking

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2080

It’s great to have a free press. We can hear the unvarnished truth about everything, and really see the world the way it is. Australians know what’s going on.

Sadly, this is an ideal. Rather, it would be good to have a free press. What we do have is a very restricted media with very concentrated ownership. Our media runs campaigns, and follows ‘narratives’; if a media company thinks the news is going in a particular direction, they follow it.

Our free media will keep us posted on what’s happening in Palestine, right? Wrong. They tell us about it through the following distortions:

  • under-reporting. While the Hamas attack has had detailed attention, there has been nothing in the Australian media about the settler attacks on the West Bank that have been going on a long time before 7 October. Israeli settlers on the West Bank have regularly killed and attacked Palestinians, destroying buildings and farms. At least 15 Palestinian communities have been fully displaced. More than 130 West Bank Palestinians have been killed since 7 October. There were about two settler attacks a day in 2022. This is not mentioned. Australian media approaches the conflict as though it has just begun, and as though it’s just a little unpleasantness.
  • not reporting: Did you know that South Africa’s ruling party is pushing for the country to cut off relations with Israel over that country’s ruthless attack on Gaza? If you read Australian media, you won’t have heard about this.
  • both sidesing: this refers to a media need to be seen to be balanced, leading to two sides of an unequal situation being depicted as equal. When it comes to Israel-Palestine, you could be forgiven for thinking that there are two countries, roughly equal size, with similar militaries, at war. In fact, Palestinians occupy 2 per cent of the original land of Palestine, while Israel has the world’s fourth largest military and is subsidised by the world’s richest superpower.
  • slanted language: Hamas attacks Israel, but when Israel attacks Palestinians, language changes and becomes passive voice. Instead of ‘Israeli troops killed children’ we get ‘Children died’. Instead of ‘the IDF dropped bombs’ we get ‘there are explosions in Gaza’, as if the explosions just happened.  This language takes what is a vicious genocidal attack on an entire population, and turns it into a series of natural disasters; sad, but not really anybody’s fault.

Slanted language distorts opposition to the genocide being carried out right now, with protests being described as ‘anti-Israel’ instead of what they are, pro-Palestine.

There is also the usual weaponisation of claims of anti-semitism. The Australian newspaper published a cartoon showing a Hamas tunnel under a hospital, the big gag being that the tunnel was in the shape of a swastika. This is supposed to be funny as though only anti-semitism could explain resistance to Israeli oppression and apartheid. Need we add that no huge network of tunnels was found under the hospital?

There’s also the choice of topics. After the 7 October attack, it’s understandable that people would talk about Hamas, but the relentless use of the phrase ‘Israel-Hamas’ war reinforces the perception that Hamas is the only issue in Palestine, just as the slaughter in Gaza is described as “attacking Hamas,” instead of what it is – attacking an entire people.

Stay informed, and don’t fall for these tricks. The Guardian is proud to be presenting news from a working-class perspective, and we do our best using a range of news sources to show what’s really going on from the point of view of the oppressed and the colonised. Keep reading if you want views that go against the imperialist narratives and distortions, drop us a line if you have a comment, and if you want more, contribute to the Press Fund.

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