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‘Palestinian point-of-view’ missing from media coverage

11 October, 2023

Interviews by Caeden Tipler, adapted by Joel Armstrong

Palestinian New Zealander and descendant of Palestinian refugees, Tameem Shaltoni, and Co-Founder of Alternative Jewish Voices, Marilyn Garson, say many media outlets are misrepresenting Israel's occupation of Palestine. 

Late last week, Hamas, a Palestinian political and militant group based in the Gaza Strip, launched an attack on Israel, killing hundreds of civilians. Hundreds of Palestinian civilians have also been killed during Israel's retaliatory attacks, including on Gaza's Jabalia refugee camp. 

Palestinian New Zealander and descendant of Palestinian refugees, Tameem Shaltoni, told 95bFM’s The Wire, that overall, media coverage of Israel's occupation of Palestine is not balanced.

“The news will happily broadcast messages that come directly from the Israeli occupation army.”

“The Palestinian point-of-view is always missing.”

Israel’s continued occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is considered illegal under international law and has been condemned by humanitarian organisations, including the United Nations.

Since Israel first began its occupation of Palestine in June 1967, thousands of Palestinians have been forcibly displaced, to create settlements that are exclusively for Jewish Israeli settlers. Since 2007, Israel has restricted imports to Gaza and prevented Palestinains from leaving. 

Co-Founder of Alternative Jewish Voices, Marilyn Garson, told The Wire that media outlets need to put more effort into adequately portraying Israel's settler-colonial occupation. 

“What unfolds in Israel is easier to see. What unfolds in Gaza is unfolding in darkness behind a wall.”

“There is a tendency to look at the spectacle, and to reproduce the story that is easiest to find.”

Israeli forces have a long record of using excessive and often lethal force. According to Amnesty International, since 1987, roughly 10,200 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces. In the same period, roughly 1400 Israelis have been killed by Palestinians.

Shaltoni emphasised that supporting Palestine is not equivalent to supporting Hamas.

“Hamas is a political party. There are many other political parties in Palestine, but each party has their own views, values, and plans.”

“Palestine is a nation. As a nation of people, they have human rights, and when their human rights are violated, then the moral choice that all of us face is to support these people until we are able to restore their human rights.”

New Zealand Jewish Council spokesperson, Juliet Moses, has conflated condemnation of Israeli occupation of Palestine, as being anti-semetic.

Garson said this rhetoric is dangerous and normalises Zionism.

“I am a Jew and certainly not an anti-Semite. I love my religion, and many people oppose the occupation, because it is wrong. Not because the people who are doing it happen to be Jews.”

“Zionism is a manifestation of nationalism. It is the desire for Jews to have a country and an occupation project that has nothing to do with religion.”

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has declared a “state of war” and issued a blockade on the supply of all food, water, electricity, and fuel to Palestinians living in Gaza.

More than two million Palestinians live in Gaza, one of the most densely populated territories in the world. 

Shaltoni highlighted that 45% of people in Gaza are unemployed, and 52% of Palestinian youth have no secure housing. The area also only receives four hours of electricity each day.

He said international action needs to be taken to call on Israel to remove its blockade and give Palestinains dignity and human rights.

“It is unimaginable. I can't even think how bad the situation is over there. We cannot keep ignoring it.”

Listen to the full interview

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air